Every night, I’m convinced there’s some mild form of the Hunger Games taking place outside of my window. The low, rough rumble of a P.A. system cuts through the usually quiet field announcing the time.
At the beginning of the year, it made me uneasy. I didn’t understand what the scratchy noise was and why it seemed to fill my apartment with muffled and mangled words that didn’t seem to be anything resembling English and more resembled Charlie Brown’s teacher.
I’ve learned to tune it out by now. I tune out the constant shrill whistles and yelling, too, I kind of have to.
And so is the joy of living next to the intramural fields. From my RiverPark apartment, I can watch any game I choose from my bedroom window. Our balcony overlooks the fields. The ever-present hum of the lights is hardly even noticeable anymore—only when I actually try to hear it. It’s nice not necessarily needing a light in the living room at night with the way the big bulbs illuminate and flood through the open sliding door until late hours of the night.
I was comforted by the clink of baseball and softball bats at the beginning of the year. I watched, though, as the backstops came down and soccer nets popped up, the chalky white lines changing with them.
It easily became an annoyance to live near the fields and I harbored subconscious negative thoughts about intramural sports. It was something I had always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time or the team. So when I was making dinner last week and my friend texted me, asking if I wanted to play football—right at that moment—I hesitated. Sure, I wanted too, but flag football? I knew nothing.
I denied but agreed to play for the rest of the semester. So that’s where I found myself Wednesday night—on the fields that I had come to tolerate, simply because what other choice did I have?
I played with the Sports Management fraternity (SASM) and acted like I had the slightest idea of how to play (I didn’t have a clue). Even as I was running out onto the field for the first time, I yelled back to the guys on the sideline, “Is it okay that I have no idea what I’m doing?”
They assured me it was and I went on my way, running around aimlessly just like I did as a preschooler playing soccer so many years ago.
I knew the basics of what was happening around me, but I mostly just followed everyone around me and tried to do what I was told. It turns out that I wasn’t very good at following directions most of the time.
But then I ripped someone’s flag off and my team was cheering for me. I didn’t remember a lot of their names and I was sure that they didn’t know mine. I’m sure that’ll change though sometime in the next three games though.
And that’s why you should play intramural sports. It’s funny, I gave a speech freshmen year about why everyone should play, but until now, two years later, I hadn’t followed my own advice. I couldn’t let my years at Ohio get away from me though without experiencing this at least once. And honestly, I’d like to do it more.
Students have so many options here—badminton, indoor and outdoor soccer, broomball, basketball and dodgeball. That doesn’t even scrape the surface. It doesn’t matter how little time you have or how little knowledge of the sport you have. I had none and I still plan on going out there every week because I truly enjoyed it.
I never thought there’d be a day I’d be out playing football; I didn’t even play powder puff football in high school. But I kind of caught on.
I saw the ball coming for me and as it was, I knew I wouldn’t make the catch. There was no doubt in my mind that it would fall just out of reach, a foot or so in front of me. Years of training as a soccer goalie boiled down to absolutely nothing as I stretched my arms out with the ball sailing low and to my left.
Miraculously and without even thinking about it, I wrapped my hands around the ball and pulled it against my legs. I stopped. I didn’t even try running, which is what I think you’re supposed to do when you catch a pass in football. I was too stunned to try. But hey, that’s progress, right?
They cheered for me and gave me high fives. It was the only really useful thing I did the entire game, but it felt really good to just get out there and run around. In the end, I know we won but I don’t have the slightest clue what the score was. Honestly, it didn’t really matter to me.
I have a new-found appreciation for football, for intramural sports and maybe most interestingly, for the view from my balcony. I was finally part of that noise and benefiting from those bright, towering lights. I never thought I’d be down there one day.
I looked up a little while later and saw a dark figure on my balcony as I played. I laughed to myself, realizing that one of my roommates was watching.