The brief, brutal and embarrassing inaugural season of the Beacon’s dodgeball team hits a speed bump tonight as we forfeit our match because no one feels like playing. We’ve been shorthanded since our second game, when Publisher Tom Donnelly strained his groin and tore his rotator cuff, and Editor Kellyn Brown twisted his knee. Pathetic.
Like many good tragedies, we began playing dodgeball in the Kalispell Parks and Recreation league with high hopes and the best of intentions. We had Art Director Stephen Templeton design cool T-shirts that said “Beacon Blitz.” I donned matching red, white and blue wristbands and a headband. We practiced throwing Nerf balls against the walls of our office. And then we get our rear ends handed to us, night after night.
That’s not entirely true. We have lost most, but not all of our games so far: heaving, drenched in sweat and stunned by the realization of how woefully out of shape we actually are. But even our victories feel slightly wrong. Dodgeball is a sport that relies disproportionately on humiliation and physical pain for success. Still, I am never going to feel comfortable about any situation in which three co-workers and I are furiously hurling foam balls at a woman old enough to be my mother while she cowers in the corner of a gymnasium.
And those were the good nights. The bad nights result in teams comprised of high school kids or some other random assortment of friends, blasting us so hard and fast that I feel like I’m in a civil war reenactment being hit by cannon balls. Although – as I learned repeatedly – getting hit by a well thrown ball is less humiliating than throwing a ball at someone as hard as you can, only to have that person catch it as easily as if it were a balloon lobbed by a toddler.
The bitterness has infected our office, as staffers who fail to show up and subject themselves to this weekly embarrassment like the rest of us are interrogated the next morning as to their whereabouts. Such excuses as a sick pet or a sleeping child are obviously transparent. And even if the excuses were true, they’re not good enough. A commitment to the Beacon Blitz transcends the obligations of family.
At least it should have. Then we realized there was a game scheduled for Valentine’s Day, and we decided enough was enough, so we’re giving ourselves the night off. Now, we prepare for next week’s match up, and beyond that, our sophomore season, where the misery is likely to continue. By the way, if anyone would like to purchase a slightly used “Beacon Blitz” T-shirt in a few weeks, make me an offer.
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