This past weekend a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Ethel, asked me if I wanted to be a stand-in on a flag football team that plays in Baltimore. I didn’t know anyone on the team but enthusiastically accepted the invite, as I had absolutely nothing better to do. Plus, Ethel brings the laughs like no one else, which I desperately need during my dark, unemployed times.
Ethel and I are natural competitors and as such began brainstorming game strategies that would play to our strengths and subsequently make us look awesome in front of people we hoped would become our new friends (Ethel only knew a couple of team members also). A few options were thrown out, but one stuck. We were going to use the speed and agility that we had loosely (read: barely) maintained since our college lacrosse days to blast past everyone and score a shit ton of touchdowns. Anyone foolish enough to try and stop us would get his or her obtrusive skull busted.
I couldn’t help but see myself carrying out the game plan. What I saw was an abundantly sweaty, asthmatic ogre who was violently stiff-arming opponents down the field as everyone watched in uncomfortable horror. It then dawned on me that this might not be the best way to meet a group of strangers for the first time.
Like I said, Ethel and I are former lacrosse players who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spent four years alongside 40 other girls doing hang cleans and tire flips so that we could prepare ourselves in the event that we had to crush any and all similarly thick-legged opponents. We didn’t play for fun. We were trained to win at any cost, so much so in fact that if the opportunity presented itself we would not think twice about stuffing our unruly opponents into a trash compactor. It was our own slightly psychotic dog-eat-dog world, a bubble where we could fearlessly talk trash and sweat like 400-pound men.
The problem is that death threats, mental intimidation and excessive perspiration can come off as unattractive and borderline frightening to the casual athlete. I wanted to make a good impression on my temporary teammates, but I knew they weren’t going to understand when I ferociously kicked inanimate objects after a bad play or threw my hands up and aggressively screamed in their faces after a good one.
Luckily, it never came to that. The game was cancelled due to rain from the day before, an overreaction that worked in my favor. I did, however, decide that I am far too competitive to play sports for fun. In fact, all women who are former college athletes should follow my lead. People already think we are beastly and the last thing we need to do is perpetuate negative stereotypes or alarm people looking for some friendly competition.