Trouble Brewing with Hipster Kickball League
"I signed up with some friends to play kickball in McCarren (because running and drinking outdoors is fun!)" writes a tipster. "I was worried that I wouldn't be diehard enough for the people who normally turn out for this league, and Christ Almighty, I think I was right. The E-mail below is from a self-described "league vet" who needs to get a fucking life..." The email below proves that people have no idea how difficult it is to organize a Brooklyn kickball league these days...
As someone who's been not only playing in the league since year 2, but has been a captain all but one year, I would like to say first off that league veterans deserve no more special treatment than newbies. If someone was there on your kickball day one screwing you our of playing, you wouldn't have any games under your belt. I don't think this has been much of an issue though.
However, what I feel is and always has been an issue is this. So many people are proud to call themselves "vets" and talk about how long they've been around and that's all well and good, playing kickball is only half of what it means to be a kickballer, in my opinion. I've busted my ass as hard or harder than most people without an official title for years. I'm there just about every week picking up trash on all of the fields (and grumbled slightly under my breath every time a new field was added). I remember who was always out there with me, who would stick around when the few of us shouted that everyone should grab at least one cup on their way off the field to generally be ignored. I've carried equipment bags that weigh more than 3 dead bodies when I could barely move my legs after a long ass day, especially a special event day... especially a special event say where I end up with sun poisoning because I umped every second I was there.
So if you're a kickballer who plays every week and never misses games and is always there on tie, I don't doubt your dedication or your right to call yourselves as such. However if you've been there week after week without being asked helping because you love the park and the league as much as you love the bar and your friends then you've garnered a little more respect from me.
With lenghty (sic0 thought out on the table I would like to cover a few things.
First off, preregistration basically killed any chance a new team had to play for the next 5 weeks. If we couldn't get registered for any reason (and my team couldnt) then you're going to have to wait for a team to drop off. I don't know about anyone else, but if I paid 150 bucks to play 5 weeks, I'd be there every week, rain or shine, team or no. Where as 5% of teams would have fallen off in two weeks, there is now more powerful persuasion to be there for 3 extra weeks, if not more.
As for a waiting list. That is going to KILL new teams. The league will cannibalize them. More people will play and make friends yea, but let's be honest, not everyone is a people person right off the bat. Their nice friends will get teams right off, and they'll be left with the mourning of a team that never got to play. If the new teams on the waiting list waited and showed every Sunday to see who didn't come and if there's be a spot well, there'd be a lot of waiting. WORSE than this is the fact that, with people having paid so much money, those teams who paid without even having a full roster or who don't have committed people will run around before game time grabbing lawn candy to play with them. not only did we give teams who can't fill their roster (since we're so up on sticking to regulations this year)a huge pool to grab from, the vultures will be picking the flesh from the unfortunate teams player by player.
Sorry this is so long, but I have a good bunch to say, so if you bear through it all I super appreciate it...
I started a team. Sort of. I created a team name, and had two people on my roster who played last year and have told me specifically that they don't want to play kickball, they NEED to. I'm sure many of you can understand this. I was on that Free Agents list every damn day replying to every person on there, telling them about what I wanted my team to be, and spouting what has become the much abandoned rhetoric of the league. "It's kickball. We hang out in the park and have fun. If you want to play, just come to McCarren at 6pm on a Sunday with a team or with the willingness to find one."
I found many willing players. It's difficult to be sure that people who have enthusiasm on Myspace will still show and have the same enthusiasm on a recruitment day, but I was pleasantly surprised. This past Sunday, on the only Sunday of pre season that I could get the evening off, "the Screws" ended up with a 12 or so person team. 90% of the team was eager, excitable newbies who agreed with our team philosophy of "let's just have a good time." I have every damn Sunday and Monday off from Opening day on. I am going to be driving a U-Haul van from Ann Arbor, Michigan to help a friend move to NYC and we have to leave after Saturday before opening day. you bet your ass my plan was to head out on Saturday morning at 4am to be sure I could make it, pull the van up to the field, fall out of it, and play some fucking kickball. I had my season as well planned as I could.
Divergence aside, I could not and would not promise that I had a team and $150 anytime before I actually did. While I may not agree with the rules, they are there and I wanted to make sure those that were more prepared had their deserved place. I took as much time as I could manage to plan the team and season, but bullshitting about being able to register a team when I couldn't was beyond me. I got a call, on the field, before registration ended asking me if I could go register. I replied that I could not. I did not have the money, I had just gotten enough people to say they wanted to play with us to be happy, and had in my mind no doubt that there would be kickball for all as there always has been. Obviously I was wrong.
What I've seen and been a part of since is a shitstorm that no one, not even Commish, should have to deal with. The league is expanding. It always is, we have no reason to believe that it will ever stop doing so. But after the Kick Ball it seems that no one wanted to think about it save for maybe Kev. The solutions are all out on the table now, but the captains list was a vacant area, hell even the BKKB board was a dry well all winter long. I'm not saying I had any thought about it or had tried to raise awareness or whatever. I'm also not saying I'm above blame for this one.
I've made no bones about how I feel about pre registration. I think it's a shitty solution to a growing issue. It is a solution, and that is fine. Rules are rules, and I will abide by them, as I always have (whether or not they were put into action retrospectively). But now there are teams that cannot play as such. Friends that won't have achance to be on the same team. people who cannot play at all because they wont be able to find a spot. "first come first serve" was all well and good when it applied to the board. it just doesn't seem right when it comes to having to either lose the chance to play or bullshit your way into a spot.
This is BKKB. It's great and has always been the most fun I have all year. let's face it though, there's always a little wiggle room for people who talk the right bullshit. I'm not one of those people and it bit me in the ass. Worse yet is that it bit the 12 people who I promised could be on a team, who got excited at the notion of playing together, who met as strangers on the field and left the Nest as friends on their collective asses as well. They might make friends on a team they get onto. They might even get onto a team. But I bet you are hoping you're not the captain that has to tell them that you can't fit anymore into your roster as much as I regret having to be the one to tell them that we don't have a team.
It's easy to say "everyone who made it did the right thing" and suggest some obviously subpar solutions for those who didn't. I'm glad in a way that I didn't make it onto the list because I realize now how shitty it is to get left out. i've had offers from more than a few teams to join them and just play out the season as I always have. But now I think I'll wait and do what I can. I want to make sure everyone who wanted to play kickball get to before I step on the field. That may never happen, but at least I'll feel better about trying.It was always in the back of my mind that BKKB might to get too big for itself and no longer be the league that I loved. Meeting 90 or so new people every day was the highlight of my year.
I kind of always figured that when the whole thing became exclusive and incorporated ideas like scheduling games season preregistration (and who's to say next year you won't have to register for the entire season in advance? It may have to come to that) that I would leave it behind and find something new.
That's so much harder than it sounds, but now it seems almost inevitable. There's obviously a few more weeks to figure out something, really anything to do. However, i can already see that everyone who registered on time (despite how boastful they were the week prior about never, ever paying $150 to play kickball) is less interested in anything but supplying a self congratulatory pat on the back, a weak proposition, and never thinking about it again. there's already teams trolling the forums that I built my team out of in order to fill a roster. An already registered roster.
I'm getting tired of talking about it, i'm going to think really hard about something to do about it. but it doesn't look like I'll "see you out there." this season.
So have fun, and remember. Save up this winter, because you might get left out next year.
p.s. this was a lot longer than I expected.