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I spent enough time last night at Stead Park to conclude that D.C.’s 20-somethings need a new outlet. Some games of the DCKickball organization were taking place, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
As a lifelong meathead, I’ve been privy to lots of classic dorm room and barroom debates over things like golf, pingpong, billiards, among others. The discussion each time boils down to this: Sport or game?
The reason that adult kickball shouldn’t get lumped into this group is that it can’t even claim the standing of a game. “Pursuit,” OK. “Activity,” just fine. “Hobby,” sure. “Waste of time,” much better.
Youngsters show up at the field, stretching their calves and otherwise warming up for what has to be the most pointless deployment of people in a quasi-athletic mode since the last Nats-Reds matchup. When the “players” are arrayed on the field, the whole production looks as if it could pass for something worthwhile: The fielders spread out much as they do in baseball, a kicker lines up behind home, and everyone’s set for action.
But only disappointment follows. The ball is too huge and too soft to get kicked very far, and so a terribly common “play” is a lame popup to someone in the infield. If the second baseman, for instance, is uncoordinated enough to drop a big, aimless rubber ball, you may get people rounding the bases. A lot of kickers in the league have apparently figured out that the best way to get on base is to bunt—-simply because it’s tough for a defender to get that cumbersome ball down the baseline to head off a fleet-footed runner. I won’t try to describe the depravity of a kickball bunt. Suffice it to say that anyone who’d debase themselves to the point of executing one doesn’t deserve to play a sport.
Watch a game for a few minutes. That’ll be about all you can handle. There’s a lot of camaraderie among the teams, good sportsmanship, and a fair amount of fist-pumping and high-fiving. I just can’t figure out what on the field could possibly be causing the excitement. The spectacle reminded me why my friends and I had bagged kickball by the time we hit 5th grade.
I know, I know—-the whole idea behind the league is social. It’s co-ed, after all, and participants go out drinking afterward. They all seem nice, and they all look as if they’ve played sports in their lives. I’ve glimpsed their happy hours, too, and they all seem to be having a great time. I guess they’re all hooking up like mad—-otherwise, there’s no possible explanation for doing what they do with their summer evenings.