Dodgeball game puts reputation on line

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February 24, 2007

1:18 PM

Every so often it becomes necessary for a man to take stock of his life. In order to avoid the trap of placidity, one must constantly be thinking, “What can I do to be a man of the highest order; a man of civility, honor and personal strength; a boon to his family, whose name will echo throughout the halls of history for the rest of eternity; a man whom men wish to be, women swoon over and that remembers to shower at least once every three days?”

p. Last weekend I reached just such a moral turning point. The decision: either to continue writing my column from the safe confines of my abode, or to put my money where my mouth is and take a step in the direction of athletic contest. I, being a journalist of the highest order, haven’t had the need to venture into “the field” for quite some time. In fact, my columnist friends and I often gather together in our smoking jackets, drinking bourbon and making snide remarks about the “staff writers” who actually have to deal with “the public.”

p. So it was with great trepidation, fearful of losing the perfect couch butt groove I had developed through grueling sessions of sitting and a fatal fear of change, that I decided to leave my apartment and face the unknown cruelties of competition. After all, Teddy Roosevelt once proclaimed, “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. Unless, you know, the strong man really sucks it up. Like big time.”

p. Not quite as heartened as I might have been had I remembered more than the first half of the Roosevelt quote, I set out for the fabled competition — the intramural dodgeball tournament. Ever since I came to the fortress of knowledge that we call home, I had learned to revere the annual dodgeball tourney. As a freshman I would sit quietly, listening to the upperclassmen relate in hushed tones the public triumphs and humiliations of those few brave souls who dared place their reputations on the line. Hence, with a vain thirst for glory, despite the social pratfalls involved should we lose, The Flat Hat put together the single greatest dodgeball team ever … to be put together by The Flat Hat.

p. Josh Pinkerton, better known as The Flat Hat’s editor-in-chief, served as the ringleader of our motley group. He quickly proved himself to be as adept at hurling a ball screaming across the court as he is comfortable with page design — a veteran of many fearsome dodgeball engagements, Josh leaves dozens of mourning spouses and crying children in his wake every time he picks up a ball. Rounding out our crew, we had Jeff Dooley, Austin Wright, Brian Mahoney, Omar Hamdy (whose association with The Flat Hat is unsubstantiated at best), and myself.

p. Of course, the importance of winning in a contest such as this one is minimal. I hold Ol’ Teddy’s actual sentiment, that continuing effort in the face of adversity marks a victor no matter the actual outcome, extremely close to my heart. Sports aren’t about winning or losing – really the concept of athletics is all about the transcendent feelings of fellowship and well-being that one can’t help but feel when competing, which leads me to my final point …

p. We lost. In the very first round of the tournament. Even our intrepid fireball hucking leader couldn’t save us from that hardy, daunting freshman hall. And that’s all I want to say about that — I’ve got to go shower.

p. __Brad Clark is a Flat Hat columnist and a sore loser.__

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