And Other Diversions of the Basement Athlete
One quick clarification. A misconception that many have when they hear the term “Basement Athlete” is that it is synonymous with being unskilled at real sports. On the contrary, many professional athletes are also Basement Athletes. Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, for instance, is apparently a very capable ping-pong player.
Mindset makes one a true Basement Athlete. An inclination and love for competition that can be engaged in almost any form. A true Bathlete will utilize anything at his/her disposal to create an opportunity for “epic-ness” to ensue. As my whole family knows, the only reason they put timers on microwaves is to make buzzer-beater shots in a heated game of one-on-one Nerf basketball. A wad of paper and any receptacle from a cup to a lampshade can readily transform into an evening of entertainment. I am proud to be the third generation in a heritage of people who throw balls in the house. The importance of making sure that balls often fly around your living room cannot be understated. My Dad has often reported that as kids he and his siblings never got in trouble for breaking anything during rambunctious play in the house because “Grandpa always started it.” The same was true for me.
Nerf football games in the living room, kitchen table ping-pong, and refining Grant’s pitching form with a tennis ball across the living room are standard MO in our home. Don’t worry about occasionally breaking something. It’s just stuff.
Despite the boundless possibilities of such a rich lifestyle, the average Basement Athlete needs and tends to be drawn to various side activities. The life of a Basement Athlete is full and challenging. Prepping for that next ping-pong challenger, while staying sharp in your Wiffle ball skills – it’ll wear you down. At times you need a change of pace. Relieve the stress, while not sacrificing your competitive edge. Some options may verge dangerously close to real sports, while in some cases it is required that these distractions be mindless activity – all while meeting the needed atmosphere of “competivity” that we so crave. Obviously, it’s a rough life.
So these are what my Dad recently coined the: “Diversions of a Basement Athlete”:
Channeling Your Inner Bill Belichick
Video games fit the “mindless” category, yet when two Basement Athletes meet for a grueling game of Madden it keeps the juices flowing. You find yourself thrust into a arena where you anguish over whether the 3-4 defense will give up too much in the running game to stop the Colts offense. A dream come true. Naturally, some people go overboard. We’ve all run into that “Maddenite” who whips you 77-10 with 700 yards of offense and 8 TD passes. Get a life people! Show a little restraint. You wouldn’t catch me obsessing about such trivial pursuits.
Tastes may vary and the video game world offers abundant options. I personally enjoy baseball games as much as Madden, but for whatever reason they don’t cultivate the same level of passion and competition.
I’ve even heard some serious smack talk among competitors at “Guitar Hero” or “Dance Dance Revolution” but, really, raising such activities to Basement Athlete status would be borderline heresy.
Chasing Flying Saucers
Here, my friends, is a Basement Athlete’s venture into real sports. Ultimate Frisbee is satisfying on a number of levels. While requiring a good bit of athleticism and skill, it is has the excellent advantage of being ideal for guys and girls to play together. Almost anyone with basic instincts for catching and the coordination to learn how to throw can become a contributing player. A floating frisbee lends itself ideally to dramatic leaping or diving catches – even for those with all the leaping abilities of Larry Bird. You are bound to see one or two really sensational catches every time you play.
Ultimate – while not a basement sport – is definitely a pursuit that the Basement Athlete mindset can be drawn to. It can be quite addicting.
Living in a Fantasy World
I am currently in my fifth year of Fantasy Baseball and enjoying it as much as the first day I played. It not only provides competition with friends, but gives the opportunity to pretend we have that dream job of being the GM of our favorite team. Who doesn’t want to pick up free agents and make trades, all while figuring out what your starting lineup is going to look like.
I, myself, have only gotten into Fantasy Baseball, but I certainly can give great liberty those who enjoy Fantasy Football as well.
While it’s hard sometimes – and I have stumbled myself – you must strive to avoid being the guy who makes embarrassingly outrageous trade offers. (i.e “I’ll give you Julio Lugo, Morgan Ensberg, and Mike Cameron for Hanley Ramirez and one pitcher of your choice.” “No?? Oh, c’mon! Cameron is in a contract year!”)
Shirts or Skins
Pick up games of basketball, football, or even street hockey are staples of any Bathlete’s repertoire. Being a true Basement Athlete assumes a love of sports in general. The chance to play even a simple game of football or basketball is usually snapped up in an instant.
Basement Athlete’s are often very skilled at very specific aspects of real sports. Watching me play a game of “H-O-R-S-E”, for example, you would admire my skills. I am, after all, a 3rd and 4th grade free throw contest champion. I dominated (and I still would – thank you very much). Watching me compete in a real basketball game would modify your evaluation.
You get the idea. This list may not resonate with you, but Basement Athletes everywhere know how to combine BA sports with entertaining diversions for an excellent competitive recipe. I am full of grace to allow for personal preferences and distinctives.
But there must be standards. As my friend and commenter, Dr. Michael Bauman, has generously offered, “I can give you a pass [on any proposed BA sport] if you ran an entire major league schedule for at least two years with your Strat-O-Matic game set.”
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