HOW COMPETITIVE IS TOO COMPETITIVE? ADULT SPORT LEAGUE EDITION

Adult sport leagues are a beautiful thing. A chance to get back to some semblance of your glory days as an athlete. Also a chance to create glory days for yourself as an athlete if this is your first venture into the sporting world. A chance to stay in shape. Also a chance to get back in shape if the adult years hit you hard. A chance to release your competitive side a bit. Also a chance for you to reign in your competitive side if you’ve been known to take things a bit too seriously. A chance to meet new people. Also a chance to continue hanging out with the same people you’ve always known so your roster will be stacked and you’ll take home the coveted end of season trophy.

You get the point. Adult sport leagues exist and people join them for all kinds of different reasons. Good reasons, bad reasons, strange reasons, doesn’t matter. What matters is that at the end of the day there are teams competing against each other. Like the players that participate, most leagues offer a variety of sport options to select from. There’s the traditional sports like soccer, softball, flag football, volleyball, etc. but the best leagues have started branching out to meet adults where they’re at with offerings like cornhole, pickleball, kickball, spikeball, etc.

Regardless of what your cup of tea is, there is likely a good option. With several different competitive tiers you get to decide if you want to get revenge on all the colleges that didn’t recruit you or if you’d rather participate somewhere where everyone on the sidelines takes jello shots and stays hydrated with beer. Those experiences tend to be very different. Unfortunately for the more laid back of us, some people want to have their shot and drink it too. Meaning that the competitiveness bleeds over the defined lines causing injuries, screaming matches, and league banishments. For what? My only guess is for an ego boost.

Most leagues implement some sort of referee system – I have to believe to control the masses of inner stars chasing a past high from being the best on the field. However, the referees are exactly what you would expect out of adult league sports. They know the game, but literally would rather be anywhere else and do not have time for you yelling at their face. Who can blame them? If I’m a young adult just trying to make some extra money on weeknights and/or weekends and a middle aged player starts coming after me about a call that doesn’t impact their life, or the game, in any significant way, I’m not going to stand there and take it. 

Despite the league’s best efforts to maintain control and give people the fun v. competitive balance they paid for, there’s usually at least one. One player on a team, or one team as a whole, throwing it off. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Yelling at teammates over mistakes
  • Mistaking a pep talk for a criticism rant
  • Arguing with the referee over a call
  • Extreme frustration over a loss, which may or may not include blaming the referee for said loss, or teammates
  • Never being seen again if their team doesn’t win a championship. Likely having switched rosters to the reigning trophy hoisting team
  • Caring way too much, in general
  • Showing up with this season’s latest gear for competitive players
  • Unpleasant to be around

Do you play adult sports? Are you this person? Don’t be this person. They’re adult sports for a reason. It’s not an Olympic tryout. It’s not a professional team tryout. It’s not a recruitment tool for other teams, or more competitive leagues. It doesn’t mean anything in the long run. It doesn’t make you a loser. It doesn’t have any indicator over who you are as a person. It’s just a game. A game for adults who once may, or may not, have played this particular sport. It’s a social event that helps you justify all the liquid calories you consume. Take a breath. You’ll survive if you let go and simply have fun. 

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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