We storm the field in our finest neon orange, equipment draped from our shoulders. We get our assignment—notice of our competition, who must be brought to justice. We share a battle cry (usually a half-hearted chant). And then, we rock-paper-scissors.
For the past couple of springs, Abby, I and a group of friends have battled it out weekly on the court, playing a very spirited and not so skillful game of bocce. As team captain and head sidelines dancer, I feel it is my job—nay, my duty—to share the good word of this “sport” with our readers.
Honestly, if you’ve never played social sports, you’re missing out. Bocce is a prime example of what happens when a well-oiled machine of a team converges to stand, chat and occasionally toss a ball. (And when you fumble, blame it on an errant twig.)
Here’s why it’s worthwhile:
- Mandatory inappropriate jokes. The sport is pretty much begging for the humor of a 9-year-old. I mean, our team name is, “Here, hold my balls.” When the other team edges you out, there’s inevitably a mention of them sneaking just inside (“that’s what she said”). If you’ve been longing to lower the maturity of your punchlines, this is the game for you.
- The Chance to Pretend to be Competitive. I sometimes tell people about the year I pretended to be vegetarian in gym class just to get out of playing any sport that involved a leather ball. I more rarely tell the scarring story of the time my gym teacher wouldn’t dismiss the entire class until I made contact with my bat to a softball. Yeah, sports aren’t my thing. My hand-eye coordination is shameful. But bocce is my opportunity to shout things like, “TAKE ‘EM DOWN” and “YOU’VE GOT THIS.” Strangely empowering.
- A Reason to Get Outdoors. After working that 9 to 5, bocce is an excuse to get off the couch and enjoy the warm weather. Our spring bocce season runs from mid-April through mid-June: the sun’s starting to go down later, you won’t be sweating through your bra and there are no mosquitoes. Ahhh.
- A Way to Mix & Mingle. I’m not single, but I do know people who have met through the magic of forced social sports interaction. If you’re lookin’, be it for friends or a sig O, social sports are a great way to meet other fun young professionals. Just avoid the guy who’s six beers in, habitually accusing the other team of cheating.
- Weekly Play Date with your Friends. Saving the best for last, the No. 1 reason to play bocce—or any social sport—is a regular play date with your BFFs. (Who’s bringing the Capri Suns and orange slices?!) After four days of work, Thursday bocce is the perfect way to get a head start on the weekend and catch up on each other’s latest gossip.
Want in? And I swear I’m not being paid… I highly recommend Baltimore Social for all your social sport needs. If you want a taste of what they’re all about, the league is hosting an end-of-season party that’s open to the public on June 23 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry . $10 gets you free beer, a DJ, access to food trucks and even a mini sailing lesson. The party’s limited to 500 guests, so RSVP soon.