Looking back on my time in college recently, I came to a somewhat startling realization. Outside of the booze and girls, perhaps the greatest highlight was playing intramural sports. Lame as it sounds, they took on a level of importance that rivaled anything else going on in my life. According to Robert Bondy, that makes me an irredeemable and messed-up person.
In an op-ed piece for The State News, the Michigan State student rails against people who, you know, actually try to win IM games. The nerve, right?
Here is his flabbergasting take in its entirety.
When I think intramural flag football, I think of a fun way to continue my love for the great game of football in a less competitive and more fun manner with buddies. However, I may be in the minority when it comes to MSU IM flag football.
This fall is my first year away from the grueling, passionate life of Friday night lights. And this year, instead of picking up a helmet, I picked up a flag belt and joined the IM flag football league.
Like many of my flag football teammates, I wasn’t fast enough, big enough or strong enough to continue my career at the Big Ten level, but joining the IM league was a way for me to continue my love of football on a weekly basis. Now don’t get me wrong,
I’m very competitive and love nothing more than winning, but a line must be drawn when playing to win takes away from the fun of playing this great game.
This past week, my team played another team that had a different motive than ours. Our opponents solely were out there to win no matter what, blitzing multiple defenders on every play, throwing only short passes and simply taking the fun out of the game for me.
Like I said before, I’ve played football my whole life, and I’ve been taught to do whatever is needed to win at all costs. However, that was tackle football and this is flag football. That involved game film prep, practice three hours a day and weightlifting during the offseason. Flag football involves squeezing your feet into a teammate’s pair of cleats you’re borrowing, fishing through your drawers for a pair of pocketless gym shorts and making sure your bum ankle can hold up for the hourlong game.
I’m sorry to break this to everyone who participates in the IM flag football leagues, but you’re not playing in Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoons, you’re playing in the IM league on a Monday night on the Vet Med field.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m competitive, and I’m sure as you’re reading this you’re thinking I’m someone who falls into that cheesy category of someone who thinks everyone is a winner. That’s not the case. All I’m getting at is that there comes a point where you need to realize this is supposed to be fun, too. The perfect flag football game should include a combination of fun and competitiveness, where everyone can walk away saying they got something out of the experience.
So if you take part in one of the many IM flag football leagues, next week when you’re lacing up your two-sizes-too-small cleats and warming up for the game, ask yourself why you’re there. Realize you’re not going up against Le’Veon Bell or Max Bullough in front of 70,000 fans, but you’re playing against some high school football has-beens.
Take your foot off the pedal and just enjoy the great game of football like it should be — in this case backyard-style.
Clearly, Bondy sees himself as some sort of great moral arbiter here to save anyone who believes competition is important. And while a win-at-all-costs mentality is fraught with trouble, he misses the point completely.
Full disclosure here. Like Bondy, I played IM football at Michigan State. For five falls I was on two teams or three teams. Because we cared and took the time to develop plays, I was afforded the chance to win multiple university championships.
Honestly, we weren’t dicks about it. We just won. That’s what happens in a game. Someone wins, someone loses.
You’d think that over time these victories would become more hollow. After all, they aren’t “important” in the general sense of the word.
But guess what? It still feels awesome. I don’t regret trying and succeeding for one second. I didn’t care about the other teams’ feelings then and I certainly don’t care if they were sad about losing now.
And I’m not bragging. I’m too old to think this makes me awesome. What I am doing is saying that if you’re going to take the time to sign up and play, you might as well give it your all.
After reading the title of Bondy’s rant, I fully expected a detailed description of how the winning team delivered cheap shots or ran their mouths. Perhaps how their over-the-top celebrations were uncalled for.
There isn’t any of that. Instead, it’s a typical effort from the everybody-should-get-a-trophy camp.
How dare a team blitz. How dare they throw short passes. The horror.
Seriously, what the f*ck is his argument?
When you sign up to play sports – even if it’s “just for fun” – you submit to the chance you might lose. If you haven’t discovered everyone in the world isn’t going to cater to your egg-shell-thin sensibilities, college is a good place to start.
Again, this isn’t about who is more of a man or has the bigger dick. There is nothing wrong with going out there and having a good time. That’s what you’re supposed to do. For some people, though, what’s fun is winning.
Want to go toss a football around with your buddies on the South Complex lawn? No one is stopping you. But if step inside the lines for a game that has both paid officials and a scoreboard, don’t expect the other team to treat you like you’re a Make-A-Wish kid scoring a touchdown.
There’s no shame in losing 35-2. It happens sometimes.
There is shame, though, in taking the time to tell those who just beat you fair and square they were wrong to do so.
Take your beating like a man, and try a little harder next time.
Or don’t bother showing up next game.