Nothing says summer has arrived like plumbing the depths of your closet for sports equipment purchased in the days when you lived for backseat dry-humps and sips of stolen Peppermint Schnapps. With our teenage years in the rear view, team sports are no longer built into our schedules the way they once were, but that doesn’t mean sweaty competition isn’t available. Co-workers bond beyond the water cooler, friends unite and people who may never have touched a ball come together all in the name of physical activity. Anyone who has played rec league sports knows that every team, for better or worse, has a number of familiar characters – archetypical players – who are instantly identifiable.
THE FORMER COLLEGE ATHLETE
Jim from finance seemed like a nice guy when you were exchanging pleasantries in the office kitchen. But that benign nature sure changes once he hits the field. He’s quick to tell you about his days on the lacrosse team at college, and if, on the off chance you weren't listening, you won’t be able to ignore him wearing his old kit, embroidered with a “C” – because, of course. We get it Jim. Always the one to start a warm up (or to warm up at all), and the only one to ever suggest a weekend practice, he represents the 28–35-year-old former competitive athlete who just can’t let go. He yells at the ref, the other team and, yes, he yells at you too. “Pick it up team! You’re moving like a bunch of damn pansies and we only have five minutes left to win this thing!” Jim – you never made it, and you never will.
THE HORRIBLE PARTNER
You will only make this mistake once: letting Kerry bring her boyfriend Paul as a sub. Trust us, you don’t need him. She will insist that he’s great. He isn’t. And he will be just as upset as you are that he’s there. No amount of good vibes with Kerry is worth the humiliation he faces once he’s on the field. Every team has a Paul lurking in the wings, barely making eye contact and actively shying away from the play. There’s a time and a place to play one man down, and this is it. No thanks Kerry, we’ll bear some extra exercise tonight!
Everyone’s favourite, though most puzzling, addition to the team is the friend of a friend. Let’s call her Tiffany. She’s loud – in a good way – definitely out of shape, always the first to crack a beer and the first to get drunk. But somehow she's also devastatingly good. The Tiffanys of the rec league world always dive for the ball, go for the header and deliver the assist without breaking a sweat, or being an asshole about it. A real life ringer and a wonderful anomaly. Simply put, you want a Tiffany on your team. She will likely show up late, and mysteriously only come once a month, but how can you blame her when she consistently scores the game winner and buys the first round? Here’s to you Tiffany. You make showing up worthwhile when we’d rather be on the couch with takeout.