Church League Sports or Ouch, Why’d You Punch Me In The Neck?

I graduated from high school in 1987. I started playing church league sports about 5 years later. I got thrown out of my first sporting event ever shortly thereafter. For those of you who have played church league anything, you know the old joke about how rough and tumble it is. I’d like to say that anyone who ever said that did so with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but if I did, I’d be lying.

I’m not sure why a bunch of guys who sat in a Sunday school class together on Sunday morning turn into a band of slightly paunchy, knee-brace wearing thugs on Monday night at the YMCA. Yelling at refs for making/not making too many/not enough calls with all the intensity of the Lakers/Celtics match ups of yesteryear. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it seems the refs just want to go home. Sometimes I suppose I don’t blame them. However, I have a friend who happens to be the guy who always wore the glasses with the black, elastic strap to hold them on as if he were channeling his inner Kurt Rambis. Well, one night in a particularly physical, defensive game (there weren’t many of those), His glasses, strap and all, got knocked off of his face and slid a good 15 to 20 feet across the gym floor. If I remember correctly, he had a pretty good scratch on his face from the blow. The referee called him for traveling.

That same season we played another church and somewhere around the middle of the third quarter we were losing by, oh, maybe 40 points. We had given up on playing any sort of defense about 10 seconds into the second half and were really just trying to keep the lead from getting out of hand(triple digits). One of our guys was called for a foul which inspired me to walk up to the ref and say, “How can you call a foul when we’re not even playing defense?” His immediate response was to call a technical foul on me. In church league, getting “T’d” up meant that your participation in the current sporting contest would no longer be required. As I pleaded my case over the next 1.5 seconds, I was “T’d” up for a second time and told by the ref that I was “out of here” and that I needed to leave the gym. My response as a mature, responsible, Christian man was to say, “NO, YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE GYM!” I don’t know if any of you have ever tried as a player to throw a game official out of the game he is officiating or not. For future reference, don’t try it. Because you will walk out the front door of that facility right by yourself no matter how much that ref deserved to be ejected. Turns out players can’t eject referees. I don’t remember that being covered in the preseason coaches’ meeting. Go figure.

Church leagues are rough. I’ve been in only two near-fights in any sort of sporting event since high school. When I was a senior on the tennis team in 1987, I called a player from another school’s team off their team van because he was making fun of our courts after our match. Uncalled for. Chain link and asphalt builds character. Seriously. The other near-fight was with a guy ON MY OWN TEAM in a church softball game. Don’t even remember why but I’m sure it was something very important like hitting your cutoff man.

From Bibles to blows and from communion cups to fisticuffs. The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry ain’t got nothing on First Baptist vs. First Methodist for a first round bye in the end of season tournament. Intensity is the order of the day in every church league sport from softball to volleyball to basketball. My question is this: Is taking out the second baseman/children’s minister from the Presbyterian church to break up the double play considered bad sportsmanship? An official ruling would be greatly appreciated.

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