A few months back, The Onion took on Adult Kickball with their "Bar Owner Cannot Fucking Believe He Actually Sponsored an Adult Kickball Team" piece. It was great. The piece took swipes at both the young preps and hipsters who play kickball and the stubborn old bar owners who would rather go out of business than serve the aforementioned groups of people. Smart writing.
I'm not going to get too bogged down on adult kickball. Honestly I don't really understand it. Kickball was a game I played as a kid, because my elementary school didn't provide anything other than a rubber ball. If we had access to a bat and a softball or baseball we would have not been playing kickball. I'm not sure why grown adults, who can purchase things such as bats, mitts, and balls, wouldn't rather play softball.
I guess I'll just go ahead and blame Dick Cheney and Monsanto, thanks to this hilarious chart that's been floating around the Internet for a while:
Photo courtesy dieyuppiekickball.com
Deep down, though, I get it. Young people move to DC and they have no friends and they don't want to drink at the bar alone. So, they join a 'league' that involves playing a sport most people gave up around age 8, simply so they can then go to the bar (wearing matching t-shirts, no less) and drink. It's a continuation of college, except you wear your NAKID or WAKA shirts rather than "UNC-Chapel Hill" or "NYU."
So what's an even lamer children's game that has been co-opted by adults? Wiffle Ball. Yes. Maybe I'm late to the game and everyone already knows, but there are adult Wiffle Ball leagues. Including one right here in the DC area.
How did I learn about this? Thanks to the awesome reporting by the Washington Post, of course. They are doing a series on the "games played by Washington residents that define our area." And what do they pick for this series? First off they did boxing. Hey, that's a legit sport and I enjoyed reading about boxing in DC. Next they did speed skating. Kind of unique, it was interesting that such a thing exists in DC.
Now, it's on to adult Wiffle Ball. Competitive adult Wiffle Ball, complete with comprehensive statistics available online. From the piece:
People are surprised to discover there is such a thing as a Wiffle ball league in Northwest Washington, especially one that keeps score of games and tracks official statistics. This is, after all, a child's game played with plastic bats and balls. And yet the Potomac Wiffleball League is conducted with great formality over two seasons a year, with eight teams, of three to five players each, with names like Scared Hitless, Wackazoids and Ragano's aptly titled Clubber Lang. They do this on two pockmarked fields at Fort Reno Park, on grass that is freshly trimmed and base paths lined with white paint. Games are videotaped by a pair of camcorders set up on tripods behind home plate. And when the games are finished, there are player of the week awards, as well as MVP, Cy Young and rookie of the year trophies to be given away -- at, of all things, a season-ending awards banquet.
It is, in the words of its commissioner, Chris Gallaway, "as professional as I can make it."
We've got a bunch of defense contractors in their mid-30's playing with Wiffle Balls in the park. "Slow pitch" Wiffle ball, to be exact. (Is it even possible to throw a Wiffle ball at any speed other than slow?) But oh no, they don't just do this for fun or exercise, they go all out. They videotape it, they run statistics on it, they even have a "World Series." All over Wiffle ball.
The star of this nearly 2,400 word 'human interest' story is 33 year-old Tony Ragano who is pictured smoking while "pitching." He likes to refer to Wiffle ball as "war," and he takes it very seriously. He is the self-proclaimed best Wiffle Ball player in the world. He loves to track his stats, and obsesses over his ERA (which would be impressive, especially if he was a professional baseball player, which (as of press time) he was not).
That's DC in a nutshell in a lot of ways. We're obsessed with keeping track of ourselves, and seeing how we measure up to each other. Even when it's a children's game played by grown men, we've gotta see how we stack up. If there's a dispute, it's all on videotape. We take our Wiffle balls way more seriously than most anything else in our lives.
At the end of the day, I don't mind the kickball people because most of them openly admit they are doing it to either get drunk or hook-up. What I don't understand is why people would fixate on Wiffle ball. It doesn't even use a real ball. It's got holes in it.
I don't know, this just bothers me. The Post dedicated 2,400 words to covering a sport that's one step up from T-Ball. And that this was selected as a sport that defines our region. Jesus, at this rate I'd have preferred a feature piece about kickball. Or maybe a follow-up on how that whole Olympic Curling team thing is working out.