The sportsman's guide to playing IM softball with class

    Intramural softball at Northwestern is a lot like Little League, just without coaches and overzealous parents. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, but sometimes you can’t help but get competitive. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right? France’s Henry II begs to differ, but until Northwestern adds intramural jousting, the urge to quash other team is perfectly understandable. Just win according to these unwritten rules of intramural softball:

      1. Do not wear batting gloves, sweatbands, clothes with this sign on them, or any other apparel that would indicate you played high school varsity sports. Doing so is the intramural equivalent of showing up to play a round of mini golf dressed like Payne Stewart. Plus, when you do fulfill your dream of knocking out a window in Hinman-Lincoln with a game-winning blast, you’ll look much more impressive trotting around the bases in gym shorts and tennis shoes than wearing your own customized, monogrammed body armor.

      2. Do not call out a fellow teammate for poor play. Approaching a teammate between innings to give them an impromptu clinic on fielding grounders is even worse. In the topsy-turvy world of intramural sports, this makes you look bad. A mental miscue or fielding error by a teammate should be met with cheers, not jeers, from other fielders. Save the frustration for that dartboard picture of Terry McDropsflyballs when you get back to your room. This way, you’ll get really good at darts and since darts is not a team sport, it’s win, win!

      Your average Terry McDropsflyballs. Photo by moacirpdsp on Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

      3. Do swing, but do not strikeout. As the batter is only allowed three pitches, intramural softball is not the place to show off your “good eye.” Hack, chop or bunt your way to first base at any cost. I’d rather have an aluminum bat taken to my knees than watch one more batter let the third pitch fly past — only to remember seconds later that that was the last chance. This is also no time to brag about bat speed. Most softball strikeouts occur because hitters have difficulty timing that slow lob to the plate. A suggestion for slowing down your bat speed: get a heavier bat.

      4. Have enough girls. Intramural teams must consist of both men and women who are Northwestern students, faculty or staff. Twice our team won by forfeit because our opponent arrived at Long Field missing two or three of the requisite ex-softball stars needed to compete. Nothing looks less manly than forfeiting because you couldn’t find enough girls to field a balanced team.

      5. Ignore the devil on your shoulder. The voice in the back of your head saying, “C’mon, you can score, just go for the takeout slide at the plate,” should never get the best of you. Injuring people on the other team is not a solution to anything. Pitching in sixth grade, I accidentally plunked a kid in the head. This was okay, because sixth-grade baseball matters more than co-rec-level IM sports, and because the kid was totally leaning over the plate and asking for a brush back. But now that we’re grown up, play fair.

      6. Swing for the fences (or road, in this case). If you absolutely must win, then win for yourself. Taking the extra base or tagging up from third provides the personal satisfaction and remedy for the pain of watching the infield botch four dribblers in a row. Come away from the game knowing that even though your team lost 13-1, you were the one who hit that home run. And yes, a double with two throwing errors counts as a home run.


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