Kickball in the City

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The WAKA lie, 30 miles long

False advertising - it's slimy, distasteful, and sometimes illegal. Usually though, they are easy to spot. That ad for the ab machine a few years ago that you just put on and turn on that would melt away the pounds while you ate Haagen Dasz just sitting on the couch was easy to spot as a lie. Those spam emails we all get that promise to "Make your penis larger" with a pill, also clearly untrue. But what about when it comes from a place you have been involved with for years? Say your kickball league - the biggest in the country - lied to you and everyone else about something as innocous as where they were holding some playoffs. What then? Think it can't happen? Think again.

If you log on to the regionals page for WAKA you see this:

Eastern Regional
September 30, 2006
Richmond, VA

Sounds good, I like Richmond. It's a state capitol, a party town, and the college mascot is a spider. They have a lovely skyline. I'm sure it's a great place to live. There's only one thing - the WAKA Eastern Regional Championship is NOT in Richmond. It's in some place called Ruther Glen, Va. Never heard of it? Me neither. Disappointed? Me too, and we're not alone:

so.... remember that regional that was supposed to be in richmond? yeah, what happened to that? cause at the moment it looks like someone mistakenly planned it for some place called ruther glen?

I think Ruther Glen is in the Richmond area, but about 30 miles south.

Did you expect anything different from WAKA? They'd hold the tournament at an elementary school field if the school board gave them enough perks.

These are posts from dyed in the wool WAKA types on The middle one was the one I found most intriguing; 30 miles is considered in the Richmond area? Really? So, I decided to check on this, I called the number listed on the Richmond city page above. Here's how that conversation went:

Kickball Homer: Hi, I am calling to ask about a town near you called Ruther Glen.

Richmond woman: I'm sorry, I've never heard of it.

KH: Oh, well, I think it's about 30 miles from Richmond.

Richmond woman: (Laughs nervously) Nope, sorry I don't know where it is.

Ok, well I guess if it was in the area, Richmond city workers would at least know where it is. I decided I'd call Ruther Glen - no city page. But I did find that it's just 5 miles from King's Dominion which is kinda cool. If you're going to King's Dominion. Or if you're going to Ruther Glen it's cool. It's not so cool though if you were told you were going to Richmond to play kickball. Then it's not cool at all.

So I guess, WAKA kickballers, you can drive the 29.8 miles from Ruther Glen to Richmond after your games, change, and then go party. Sorta kills the buzz of going right, after which is all the fun, but at least you'll be in Richmond. Or you can go to King's Dominion.

This means that either the Kash guys at WAKA or liars OR maybe they are right. Maybe Ruther Glen is close enough to be called Richmond. Hmm, that means Manassas is close enough to be called Washington, DC (just 31.04 miles). And Baltimore can be DC or vice versa since they are so close (only 38.04 miles) - just don't tell the commuters, they wouldn't support the WAKA map. And Greenwich, Ct can look forward to a Trump Tower and hosting a second Wall Street since it is so close to New York City (wow a scant 33.62 miles). Maybe these places will start marketing themselves that way. But probably not. I'm sure if you called the places in question they would at least know the towns, but otherwise the conversations would be similar to mine.

So, I'll vote that they are liars. They thought putting Richmond would excite people and it did - until they found out the truth. One thing people can do to stop this increasing disrespect the Kash guys have for their customers is to boycott the Ruther Glen Regional. Another is to just quit and play elsewhere, which I may have to do. I don't appreciate false advertising, especially when I'm the sucker paying for it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Short term money men?

I came across a VERY interesting post on the other day. Interesting in terms of it's insight and the points made. Interesting because it seems to have stopped the normal flow of gushing retorts from people who play in WAKA with blinders on. Plus, I believe I can add a little to the post to make it even better.

Someone posted that companies should be salivating at the idea of sponsoring WAKA and that WAKA should be providing better shirts to its players, which led to this post:

WAKA has been in business for 6 years, essentially. They have no real sponsorships except for beer companies. Here's why: In order to be a WAKA sponsor or even associated with WAKA, they want a cut of the money you make. This is standard however after speaking to several of the reps that do business with them, their way of doing business is less than good. In fact it's pretty bad. Those of you that have been around as long as I have will remember when they switched from Miller Lite to Bud Light for a year as the sponsor beer for this area. Bud Light offered more cash so WAKA chased it. The problem (which the distributor told them in advance) is that Bud Light has awful customer service. They pay you big and then ignore calls for swag, etc after that. Thus they left Bud Light and came back to Miller demanding the same money they had received from Bud Light. When told they weren't getting it, they asked for the amount they had previously gotten, they were told no to that too. They had to start from scratch even though they had more members than before.

WAKA over values it's product. Claims of 10-15k players are not taken seriously by anyone looking to partner with them for one simple reason - they refuse to show anyone their books. Any real players (like NIKE) would want to see the numbers to check if a partnering with WAKA is even worth it. And they just refuse to show the numbers.

A sponsorship with NIKE would benefit WAKA infinitely more than it would benefit NIKE. Face it, most WAKA players rarely buy extra merchandise ($22 for a t-shirt that has NAKID's slogan on it?!) thus leading to less appeal for some place like NIKE. Also, WAKA would have to pay a regional licensing fee to NIKE (this is standard) and that could run as much as $10-20k per region. This would detract from the WAKA guy's profit. They are not going to do that.

Third, and lastly, despite the idea that companies "should be licking their chops" to team up with WAKA, they have PR troubles. In any national publication about them (and even the WaPost piece on NAKID from Sunday) the lawsuit gets mentioned. No matter who is right or wrong, that's not something a potential partner, especially a big one, wants to deal with.

While I agree that WAKA should be providing better shirts than NAKID and DC Kickball because of their bigger pool of money, they will not. In the end it all comes down to this: to get real companies involved WAKA would have to invest money to make things better for players. And in case you haven't noticed, they are not about to cut into the bottom line - even if it would be a wise investment in the future.

What I can add to this is that while the Kash guys take 80 percent of registration money for overhead and paychecks for themselves, they seem to be looking short term. If they were more aggressive in getting sponsor ships and partners, they would be able to take less (like maybe half), still make a pile of money, and make their customers much happier. But that would require more work, which leads me to believe that either they are too lazy or too incompetent to do that. I don't want to bore readers with the numbers but let's just say if they had a beer sponsorship that could fetch them 100k nationwide and a few big deals otherwise, they would be well over $1.5 million AFTER paying for overhead.

Making more money than the other leagues in just the DC area, the Kash guys should have top of the line everything - balls, bases, shirts, employees, etc. The facts are though that they don't. Other leagues have real bases, organized flip cup tournaments. offer free beer for rainouts, medals for winners, and on and on. With the Kash guys you get the same t-shirts, elementary school bases, and you get to do all the work too! All this and it's the most expensive one in the area.

The writing on the wall is this: there are independent kickball leagues popping up everywhere, and WAKA needs to deal with them. Thus far they have chosen lawsuits and intimidation as a way to try and squash their competitors. But at some point, they are going to have to make things better, unless I am right and they are just in it for the short-term money.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Point of Clarification

Dear DC Star,

Kickball Homer doesn't read your message board. I, Sideshow Bob, read it. Everyday. I scour all the newsletters, message boards, stories, websites, etc. looking for the silly, smart, dumb and controversial things done and said. You and have a very chatty forum that's full of things to comment on. It makes that much easyier to pull so much info from you.

Kickball Homer and I are obsessed with kickball. Period. While we appreciate how important you may think you are, you are more like a car crash -- not important, but fun to watch the carnage.

Sincerely yours,
Sideshow Bob

A Movie for Kickballers

Immature, childish, and full of beer - this describes not only the ideal kickballer but also the ideal kickball movie. Luckily, I got to see one the other night. for free, thanks to one of my leagues - NAKID - before it actually opened. That movie, is Beerfest.

A few years ago a group of kickballers and I went to go see Dodgeball when it first opened. The movie is really funny, but I think is even more funny if you play a game like dodgeball or kickball. The silliness, the pettiness, etc all work well within the context of playing a game that most people remember from their childhood. Beerfest works in the same way.

Fast forward to college days (or just after college and playing kickball) and this is the setting for Beerfest. Grandpa-pa of two guys die, they have to go to Germany to spread his ashes and wind up in the Secret Beer Olympics (a kickballers dream)! The Germans humiliate and beat them and they return to the land of the free vowing vengeance in next year's SBO.

They collect up some old college friends and design a great training course of beer games. Hijinks of drunkness ranging from crashing a party and boxing while dressed as man and wife to beer goggle sex ensue in the year in between. One of the members of the team dies while trying to drink his way out of a vat of beer only to find out (as always happens) that he had a twin brother who can drink just like he did! Thank God for such Three's Company type coincidences.

Our boys return to Deutchland and end up playing the Germans in the finals. It all comes down to "Das Boot", a competition where your best drinkers swig from a glass boot. Very funny and well played. I won't spoil who wins (but am sure you can guess).

In speaking to fellow kickballers afterward (there were roughly 30 of us) most thought it was better than anticipated. I am not a Broken Lizard movie watcher so this was my first by that team and I found it funny with some REALLY funny scenes. One guy commented that a few things were reused from Super Troopers, so he was disappointed. But not me.

I'll rate Beerfest 4 cans out of a 6-pack. And if you see it, you'll never hear a frog ribbit and not laugh again.

PS Hopefully some of these ideas will be used for this year's NAKID Beerlympics (hint hint).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Don't be a battered kickballer

Bars - they are the linchpin of successful kickball leagues. The game really is about what goes on there, so it is a vital that the bar is considered not just adequate, but great by the kickballers who inhabit it on a given day or night for as many as 6 plus hours. This reciprocal feeling can lead to many dollars for the sponsor bar because people will stay longer. However, it seems the bars have been "guaranteed" some certain revenues - and people are being bullied into going to the bar - at least by one league.

Editor's Note: I have decided to refrain from calling WAKA the Wal-Mart of Kickball because: 1) Wal-Mart is cheap, WAKA is not and 2) It's an insult to Wal-Mart.

A recent debate in one of the WAKA (Worshiping the Almighty Kash Assets) has turned up some interesting details that most kickballers probably don't know, but may want to regarding the relationship between the Kash boys and the sponsor bars. The sponsor bars PAY to be a WAKA sponsor bar. That's right, they give them cash to have their logo on the back of your shirt but they are also told that people will go there for the whole season. And apparently some are forced to, as this post states:

we are obligated to stay at the INCH.. we tried to switch it before the season started.. but we were at the Mill last season and they (WAKA) wouldn't let us. And yes.. the board all had to sign a contract that we would hang out at the inch after the game. I agree we do have space issues though.

And from the division President:

Sorry everyone, I tried to get the bar switched because the league has so many teams this season, but WAKA had already signed a contract with the Inch. I know it was crowded, but I think we can make due by just taking over the whole bar. We can still make it a great season regardless of the bar situation, right? It didn't seem like people were having a bad time last week.

Sooo, WAKA gets money, and you get the shaft. Want to switch, too late the Kash guys already got paid. Volunteer for the board, they force you to sign a contract stating that you will go the bar no matter what. Too bad for you that you wanted to help them make money and help your division have a a good season, now shut up and go to the bar. Problems with the bar? No one cares. The bar owner paid and WAKA got paid, so no one is listening to you.

Why did this all start? Apparently someone was posting that people should go to another bar and this was the result. I shared this with Sideshow Bob and learned of a similar situation that came up in Fall 2004. The short story is that a group of people were tired of crappy service, being lied to by Kelly's Irish Times about beer prices and buying pitchers, and other issues and some teams staged a boycott. After going to the Exchange for a few weeks, Kelly's lured the teams back with gift certificates and promises of better service. They got the certificates, but apparently not much changed. So several teams just left for good. This serves a few lessons.

I am certain that an agreement that customers have to sign stating that they will go to a bar no matter the service, conditions, etc is not legally binding (maybe the Kash guys should have to go there). Second, the fact that the Kash guys get money from the bar is going to lead to worse service then in a league where the founders are not taking money (DC Kickball operates this way too). It's better is the league doesn't take money from the bar (and some actually don't) this way if the bar sucks, you have no obligation (real or imagined) to stay. Finally, WAKA sucks. Not caring about the concerns of your customers because you want to get paid by a bar makes them tools. But, until people leave them, I doubt this will change.

This is akin, as Sideshow Bob said, to staying with a boyfriend who beats you because he promises to stop and brings you flowers before the next beating commences. My advice to the people being treated this way by the Kash guys: Don't be a battered kickballer, leave them now!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Back to the horse and buggy?

Reading the Washington Post this Sunday, I laughed at seeing a story about the NAKID kickball league in the Sunday Source section. My view regarding coverage of kickball in national reports is always "the more the better". I figure as long as it is positive and can assist in increasing the number of people who play - in any league - it's good. Apparently not everyone shares this view.

I am fully aware that in some way the four leagues in this area are in competition for my kickball dollars. Let's face it, there are a small number of people dorky or obsessed enough to play in more that one league - and virtually none who would play in all of them. As a player though, I couldn't care less about that. I just want to play.

Perusing message boards, Sideshow Bob came across this nugget though:

As a good friend of mine asked me after reading this article... "are there THAT many fat ugly people that want to play kickball??"I like how the reporter didn't bother to do her research on the guy. No word that he tried to steal teams from (division edited out by me) and other WAKA divisions.

We could discuss whether or not calling someone fat and ugly is worthy of adults, but I think we all know the answer to that. So let's talk about this idea of "stealing teams". Last time I checked my ass, I don't have a "Property of WAKA/DC Kickball/NAKID/District Sports/any other league" tattoo on it. I'm not sure how one "steals" players or teams from another league. As I stated before, they are all competing for my dollars. And we all have free will to join or not join.

Every day people compare the cost of everything from gas to KY Jelly to clothes, so why not the same for kickball? Companies spend billions a year on commercials to get you to buy their crap instead of the other guy's. Many times I have been at a bar where some beer company is giving away beer for free that may not be my league's sponsor beer. If I take the free beer have they stolen me? I don't think so.

I fail to see how contacting someone or a group of people is attempted theft. Or offering a discount to a team or people if you try a different product. Or if you offer more services. For me it just makes things more fun and throughout history has made things better. Otherwise we'd all still be paying $3000 for a VCR.

I could even see if the post above was from someone making money in WAKA, but it's not. It's just from some guy with an inflated ego and obvious anger issues. Maybe he'd be happier if we all still rode a horse and buggy to work and had no electricity; after all Ford and GE "stole" those customers from someone, didn't they?

Dude , it's a kickball fluff story - and funny at that. Relax.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A look behind the curtain

I was at the Captain's meeting for the NAKID league the other night, and was struck by some observations. What I saw and heard made me think about all the leagues I do or have played in. Generally, these leagues are the same - play kickball, drink beer, meet people. However, the look behind the curtain at NAKID is, I think, what sets it apart from the others.

First, the league is fairly new having just started this year but is well run. They have expanded from 11 teams to 23 and play on two nights during the week (Sunday and Tuesday). In addition, they got a bar to open JUST FOR US on Sundays which is a major thing for kickballers. As a group, we are pretty annoying, loud, and disruptive to other people in places and they annoy us too. (How come they don't bust into a game a flip cup while waiting for their check?)

Second, it seems that many of the new teams came over after being "fed up with the crap" (as I was told) with WAKA. It seems that people who have to actually do all the work in WAKA (ie the board members) get more and more angry the longer they stay there. This doesn't bode well for organization that relies on a volunteer (read uncompensated) customer workforce to help it make millions. Generally speaking it's fair to say that the board members are the biggest kickball dorks, so angering them seems to be the wrong way to go.

Third, I want to be clear here - I WANT TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY WHEN I GROW UP. I do, and most of the people I know do too. Certainly so do the people running WAKA and the guy in charge of DC Kickball. Good for them, if they can make it while people enjoy kickball I salute them. Here's my problem though: people pay a decent amount to play this game in DC for those two organizations; anywhere from $50-65 per season. The divisions in each get a budget of roughly $5-6,000 to throw three parties with. That means the organizers keep 80 percent of the money paid in, $15-19,000 per division per season. Wow.

With that $5-6K the division board has to throw the parties and purchase any awards for the players. I even saw one division contemplating buying new bases because the ones they are supplied are too small! Just so we're clear, that $5-6,000 goes pretty fast when bars want $20 a head for party goers. These board members do a helluva job with what they are given. But it's not right.

In NAKID, they use the money for stuff like this: at the captain's meeting we all got food and beer - no charge. There was a raffle for two pairs of movie tickets, one for each chapter. Then an overall raffle for an Ipod Nano! Free! They have some raffles (free again) for the Kickoff Parties. All of the parties are free. They have swag throughout the season that is handed out. We were told there would be a Beer in Hand kickball game, scavenger hunt, paintball, Beer Olympics, and some other social things that I can't remember that would be free or almost free.


Many (especially the upper echelon) teams in WAKA have had this on their wish list for a while. It only makes sense, especially if you expect teams to fly across the country to be named champion. Yet neither WAKA nor DC kickball has proposed this. I guess they want to keep their money. I don't begrudge them that, but we're talking about $1,000 roughly. And really, it's more of an investment because the teams will love you forever if you do this.

What's funny is that DC Kickball and WAKA are both businesses and the NAKID league is just a group of people playing kickball but seems to operate as a better business. As they grow they are certainly setting a nice precedent. Hopefully the others will follow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Fun Police

I figured it out, I now know why people get burnout from playing kickball! A few posts ago I mentioned a concern from people about needing a respite between kickball seasons before playing another game. I explained that this is a game that people play for 1 hour before drinking for 5 hours. So why acutely are they burned out, I wondered. Now I know.

Monday's post about rule changes and the lunacy of that elicited a few responses, both private and posted on here. A little more research proved invaluable. Some people just don't know how to relax and have fun.

I received a four paragraph defense of rule changes from one writer. Scouring other message boards I found these posts:

I still would veto the 2nd 1st base. It is the runner's and fielders responsibilities to provide each other with room to make plays. Runners need to learn that they cannot always run in a straight line. Fielders need to learn to step off the base to get overthrown balls and not try to stretch so much.Or....if you can't take being tackled at first....don't play first. It WILL happen sometimes. And no one does it on purpose...I assume. And this goes for everyone. I've seen guys knocked down by girls, guys by guys, girls by guys, etc. What's next....double 2nd, 3rd and home plates? I've slid into bases plenty of times and had people fall on me. Its part of the game

I haven't reffed a game yet this season, but yes, man bunting is going to be a judgement call, but, I think everyone is right in determine whehter (sic) the dude was actually going to wind up and nail it and miss vs. a little dink

Being as I'm always chasing after bunts.. I decided that any ground ball that does not look or flat out does not make it past the base line / 1st / 3rd base line thingo is a bunt

I need to confirm what exactly happened at the bar, but apparently HFB only had three people, so that should be a forfeit, unless they asked for a re-schedule

our division president says that it (mercy rule) is being enacted automatically now, and no score showing more than a 12 point spread will be going in the books. when i pointed this rule out to him, he says it has been changed. i have not heard anything about this rule being changed, and it has not been changed in my rule book

bunts win games......if you don't like bunts then play better defense and stop them

Here's the thing people: you get burned out because you are debating every little piece of kickball. I can't believe that some people even carry it over to flip cup, where people now need to check "what happened at the bar" in case there needs to be a forfeit assinged?! For flipcup?! Wow, I'm telling you the WAKA divisions are making it less and less fun to play there.

How about this: HAVE FUN! And don't give me this "Winning is fun" crap. Yes, it is. But these are the same people who complain about burnout and needing a break. Yeah, because you are worried about what's a man-bunt and what isn't. Because you have to spend time at the bar not making out, but making sure you have the right number of flip cup players lest you receive a forfeit. And if you do make out after worrying about who has what on their flip cup team it must not be that good because the next day you are writing about having a second first base!

I have to say, in NAKID it just seems that nothing is all that serious. They call their winners the "Champions of the Kickball Universe". They have a trophy for "Greatest Flip Cupper in the World". They have a "Magic 8 Ball" that decides the flip cup standings on a weekly basis. They ran stories in their newsletter last season on: a steroid scandal in flip cup, what the world would be like if famous people were like those people who never show up for games, and stuff like that. I may sound like I am in shill for them but for goodness sakes, they make it FUN!

So calm down and stop acting like the Fun Police, it's just kickball. As one poster wrote:

sad thing is you all are debating the game of kickball. A game we all or most of us played in elementary school that has been brought back into our lives to give us another reason to drink. That's it!! Its not about the game of kickball you morons!!! Don't take it so seriously and you might have fun once in a while. its an adolescent game that is strictly for fun....I suggest you stop crying about bunting or explaining the art of bunting and just play and have fun.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What's next? Banning the sun?

Rules - most of us dislike them, but we all have to live by them. Our country is founded on the idea that we all will live and agree to act by shared rules whether they be in the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or from the local city board. We do the same thing in games, and most people are okay with that as long as the rules remain the same. But something is going on kickball that is not so great.

As WAKA, the Wal-Mart of Kickball (WMoKB) has grown, many of its divisions have take it upon themselves to alter the rules, even though this is forbidden by the WMoKB's rules. It makes it difficult to play and at some point, virtually impossible to compete with the other divisions to claim the "World Kickball Champions" title. Several of the divisions that I play in or have played in have done this. Here are a few of the rules that have been changed:

  • No overhand pitching
  • Men cannot bunt
  • The catcher does not have to stand behind the kicker when the kicker is kicking
  • Players do not need their shirts to play
  • Changing the amount of time for the "grace period" to show up late
  • Allowing extra innings

These are just a few that come to mind. Most of them are decided on by the board of the division (I assume) and then enacted without input from the players. Certainly they are not passed by the WMoKB's employees (and to that end, where the heck are these great WMoKB representatives when they see these arbitrary changes, asleep?). And so after a player signs up to play by certain rules, and the rules are changed it's "too bad for you" time. No reasons given, just "These are the new rules so get used to them" is sent out to the masses by the board.

Most of these, I assume, are done in the name of making the people who whine about men bunting or overhand pitching happy - after all the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Certainly it is done for the people who take kickball too seriously. But it seems like people are getting a little too ridiculous about this.

One of the WMoKB divisions that Sideshow Bob plays in recently was sending out it's newsletter and in the recap (by the way, I can never get enough of the half-page-long, inside-joke-filled BORING game recaps) of one of the games they were writing about a guy who wears baseball batting gloves while fielding. Upon seeing this, the division informed him that they were now banning the wearing of gloves on the field as equipment that gives the player an unfair advantage - IN KICKBALL! What the...? This had to be a joke, but Sideshow showed it to me, it was real.

What's next, banning sunglasses because it's unfair to players without them? What about cleats? Maybe a certain color shirt (like black) should be banned because it's hotter when you wear black or white because the reflective rays burn the iris' of the now de-sunglassed players? I know, let's ban the sun altogether because that gives some players an advantage while hindering others. Maybe if a player's not that good but the ball drops near her we can make that an out for a good try (Don't scoff some little leagues do this)? There's no end to the rules we can come up with!

I think the point is made. In addition what about if these teams do decide to travel to Virginia Beach or San Diego to play in tournaments and then have to play by the real rules? How about this: there are 4 kickball leagues in this area if you don't like the rules in the one you are playing in rather than deciding to change them, play in a different league. And a note to the WMoKB employees, you might want to pay attention to your divisions and actually stop this stupid altering of the rules. Sheesh, at least at Wal-Mart they care about their customers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bud Light, Buffet, and the true meaning of kickball

Last night I was watching TV and saw a Bud Light ad that was pretty cool. It seemed like these guys got what non-professional sports is all about. It was good advice for all kickballers as we begin (or already have) a new season, both returning players and novices alike.

Here is the ad

The understanding here is clear. While I get that these guys are pushing beer, it also sends a message that the sport is not the thing. Yes it's a good way to get your competitive juices flowing and that's fine, but after it's over it's not like your getting paid. Kickball people would do well to remember this.

My last post contained info about a team cheating. Someone wrote in that it's just kickball and people should drop it already, but that's my point - it's just kickball so why cheat? In fact, why stay angry after the game ends anyway. During the game I understand, but after it's over and you're at the bar, let it go.

Teams that generally are scorned claim it's because they are good at kickball, my experience is. that's not the case at all. Teams that take kickball too seriously (i.e. those teams that keep year to year stats, etc) are no fun at the bar, despite their opinion of themselves. Recently I joined a division was full of these people and they thought they were the most fun people in kickball. Yet, they were too competitive on the field, too competitive at the bar, and talked only to their team or people they knew. And while I have heard or read posts from these teams saying how fun they are the truth is, they're not and that's why they are disliked.

Lastly, their is the boy-girl factor. Guys, I can tell you that someone who is ultra-competitive in a sport that they are not getting paid to play are not a turn on for women. Extolling your prowess on the field is like telling a girl how rich you are; no one believes it and you are laughed at as soon as you walk away. Just be normal.

I'm not trying to tell people that competition is bad, it's not. Just leave it on the field. And if you can't relax just ask yourself, "What would Jimmy Buffet do?" When you get to the bar, it's fins to the left, fins to the right, and you're the only bait in town. So just take a look for that lost shaker of salt and relax in Margaritaville.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Does Floyd Landis play kickball too?

For those unaware, he is the latest cheater in sports to be disgraced. I guess living in Lance Armstrong's shadow was too much for Landis so he decided to juice up to win the Tour de France. First he said he had elevated testosterone due to drinking whiskey (how kickball of him!), then it was dehyrdation's fault, and now someone has tampered with his sample and that's the real reason he has levels of the hormone that are 11 times the normal amount. The other excuses, he says, were not his. His lawyer made him say those. Now, as with everything, to relate this to kickball.

While scouring Kickball365 I came across a post that was intriguing because it mentioned a team cheating in - of all things - kickball! So I contacted the poster and was sent two interesting emails I thought I'd share here. First, the background: Apparently the guy who's team cheated was the President of the Wal-Mart of Kickball's (WAKA) Monument Division (this took place last year). Someone posted it on their message board, and things became a big deal from there. Also, one of the FOUNDERS of WMoKB played in the division. The guy's team was going to join Monument and sent this email after hearing about the cheating: (I have left all names out)

After reading through your division message board I am concerned. Your team cheated, and you know this - whether other teams agreed you could or not. You purposely did not tell HH because you knew they would object, and that is wrong as well. I understand that and that you apologize. The most disturbing part is that you say that you will do it in the future. Is this true? Will you cheat next season? If you tell me that you won't I will believe you, but will still have the entire roster of your team checked if my team plays yours. If you tell me you will cheat, then I have to ask my teammates how they feel about that. I don't like it.

Not only did you cheat the WAKA rules (and thereby would have been disqualified from Regionals), but you lied through omission to HH, and you cheated everyone that forked over $60 by letting someone play that had never paid. I don't want BS here. If you need to cheat tell me now and we will deal with it in my team. If not, ok. I think with what our team could bring to Monument in terms of fun, experience, and enthusiasm could make the season great - but I want it to be fair. I have cc'd my captains on this.

Here is the response:

calm down. i have got enough crap over this already. i dont know you and you are not part of this division yet, so please dont lecture me. if you honestly think this is the first time a team has pulled in an ineligible player so they wouldnt have to forfeit you are mistaken. i know many teams that have done it over the last 2 seasons, everyone is just making a big deal over this b/c it was me that did it this time and we happened to make a run in the tournament. besides, it wasnt like i picked up freddie adu, my sub was a girl who was sitting on picnic blanket in sandals who was there to watch us and had never played the game before. i had 3 no shows who didnt bother calling to say they had changed their mind about coming so this was premeditated either. we just wanted to play, we didnt expect to win. we had won 1 game all season and no one, not even us thought we would make the finals. even with the sub, we only had 10 fielders. i know that i should have let the first team we beat move on, even though they knew about it, but i made a mistake and for the future, if you want to take the time to print out my team's roster, card us and check our dental records, be my guest. i may have done the wrong thing here, but i am not a criminal and at least i didnt send someone who i have never met and dont know anything about a 2 paragraph e-mail chastising him over something that happened at an event i wasnt even at.

The WMoKB rep said she would take care of it and nothing actually happened (according to the guy).

A couple of things stand out here. I guess if you cheat but others have before, it's ok. I guess if you cheat with someone other than Freddie Adu that's ok too. I guess if you weren't at an event, you cannot talk about it. At least in the Monument Division. I wonder if this does go on all throughout kickball, I'd like to think it doesn't. Maybe it's because the competition level is being ratcheted up to the nth degree among some of the teams. But I doubt it.

Smithers reports from the Left Coast that things in the WMoKB have gotten so competitive that he had to quit! He was a transplant from this area and said that out there no one really drinks (at least in his division) and they had ref clinics every week because someone was always complaining about the refs or the rules or something. Well, rumor has it they are hosting the fall playoffs so I guess that's fitting.

I am going to believe though, that the Floyd Landis and Monument Division types are in the minority. Not just because it makes me feel better but because if they are the majority, then what's the point of playing sports unless you're going to cheat? And what fun is that?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kickball, Bratz, and McDonald's

Brand loyalty is something that most companies rely on. It's why they start running commercial on Nickelodeon to get kids hooked on McDonald's and Bratz dolls before they can even talk. It works for every age group and across all measures of people. And kickball is no exception.

Many of the blogs, message boards, and websites dedicated to kickball feature a few people who post all the time. The people who are the Ultra Brand loyalists as I call these guys. And every league has them. The funny thing is, one day they can be for League A and the next for League B depending on seemingly small issues. But while they are with you, they are loyal.

There's one guy who loves WAKA and he must stalk every kickball related site looking for someone to say nary a word against his favorite league - then he pounces! Usually, this guy makes a numbers argument that rarely adds up to prove his point. Then he is followed by another who loves himself so much that when he responds to a question posed by a writer, never answers it and just makes lame analogies. In the end he usually calls it quits on a topic by saying that you "don't understand" whatever he wrote. Ah yes, the old Archie Bunker defense, so useful.

The DC Kickballers who love their league usually are much more to the point in their posts. "Carter4life" was one of the one's I recall reading. Usually they are just short bursts, indicating their allegiance and that DC Kickball rocks.

NAKID people usually have a pack mentality. The scout will find a negative reference and probably IM everyone on her/his list and they all flock over. They post pro-NAKID and usually anti-WAKA type things, sometimes with actual reasoned arguments too. And they are like a pitbull, once they clamp down they will keep posting until their tormenter gives up or goes away.

I just find it somewhat funny how these things manifest themselves, much as they do in life, in the relatively small kickball world. What's interesting is that with so many people playing in so many different leagues now, is what people will have to say in the future. And how excited they will be to defend their newest love until the next one comes around.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No Peace in the Middle East, No Peace in Kickball

Well, despite the best intentions of me and several others, there will be no Kickball Harmony Games. Much like the Middle East, kickball in DC seems to be about land space, what you believe in, and there seems to be no ground that people can meet on.

I have been working since at least a month ago to make the games happen and now have to admit defeat. NAKID was on board the whole time, so I appreciate that. District Sports was all for it too, so kudos to them. Seems like the older leagues that are in a court battle - WAKA and DC Kickball, didn't care.

I got some perfunctory "sounds good" comments from DC Kickball, but no real statement of support. Since those times and based on some unfortunate instances since then, it seemed like that group wasn't going to step up. And I'm not sure how they would have handled the beer if there was a rainout in any event. But I digress...

WAKA had by far the most interesting responses. I contacted a number of divisions and got the brush from most of them. Then I contacted one that responded. Because I am a kickball dork, I stalk all of the kickball message boards and found that one guy seemed to be moving to be the division President this season, so I contacted him. Here is his response:

Homer. I'm not the president in the fall. You'll have to speak to (name kept out by me). But I will tell you that very few people will care or want to do inter-league games. We barely have enough time to participate in our own division games, let alone play-offs and all-star games. Plus, NAKID is a bunch of disgruntled former players from our division and I, for one, don't want anything to do with them. Good luck with your effort.

Ooookkkk. I apologized to him and he wrote back to tell me that he was not speaking for all of WAKA, just his division. So I wrote to the President. He seemed cheerful enough but after speaking to people in his division (including I assume, the angry guy from the above email) told me:

As I was saying... now that this season is finally done and I had time to talk to a lot of people at the party... I'm sorry to say that the overwhelming response was "sounds like fun, but we need a break." That was even from the ones I figured would definitely play. Now we're actually talking about ignoring WAKA's tournament schedule in the fall to give ourselves a larger breather before starting the next season.

I thanked him and basically that was it.

This is odd. Essentially, I was trying to organize a thing where kickball people would come out one day for a few hours to play kickball, drink beer, and meet new people and NO ONE from DC Kickball or WAKA wanted to? Or not enough to make a real effort? People are getting burned out on KICKBALL? Just so we're clear, kickball is a sport that you play for about an hour before you go drink for 5 hours. Exactly what do these people need a breather from?

In the end, I believe the first guy that wrote me is right - and that's sad. I guess people from some leagues feel that they are better than people from others? Why, because the balls are a different color or they have different rules or they left because they didn't like the way they were treated by a league? Not playing kickball, meeting people, and drinking for free because of those reasons is as stupid as fighting a war because people have different religious beliefs or give women rights that you don't think they should have - oh wait...

I thought maybe if we could get the Middle East people together for some kickball and beer that would solve their problems. Based on this, I'm not so sure. Either way, it seems people could have cut out a few hours to play and drink and forget about their stupid kickball wars. I'll keep tryin'.