Am I in the hospital right now?
Did I get into an accident or something?
These were the thoughts that raced through my mind a couple years ago when I woke up one morning.
I took a deep breath, and my lungs hurt. I tried rolling over on my side, but I couldn’t get my body to move. Every muscle in my body was sore.
Then I remembered what I did the night before. I went down to my local ice rink and paid 20 bucks to play open hockey with a bunch of other grownups for an hour or two. It was fun, but I regretted it that morning. It’s probably not a good idea to skate at full speed when you haven’t done it in over a year.
It took me a few days to recover and people were probably wondering why I was moving so funny, but I learned my lesson that day. Playing sports—even the ones you grew up playing—is a whole different beast after college.
Thinking you’re in decent shape but realizing you’re not is just one thing, but here are 10 other things about intramural sports after college.
1. Mind Body Connection.
You watch your favorite athletes on TV and see them do these impressive moves that look effortless. Heck, you may have even done slower, less smooth versions of these moves way back in the day.
But at some point your mind wants to do something and your body just screams, “No, please stop!”
You can probably ignore your body’s pleas for a while. But after a certain point, there’s no denying it. The body can’t do what the mind wants anymore.
2. There are no routine plays.
If you played sports in high school or college, there are probably routine plays that you expect yourself and other people to make.
But rust, limited practice time, and the mind body connection from above turn everything into random a circus show sometimes. Routine plays just don’t exist anymore and just about anything can happen.
3. Playing with a short hand.
“Sorry I got held up at work and I won’t be able to make it tonight.” Then you get about 4-5 of these messages on game day and realize you won’t have anything close to a full team.
After college, team members get pulled into work functions, they go on dates, or just get lazy and don’t feel like coming out. In the past, and in most normal competitive sports, you would have to admit defeat and maybe swap players and turn it into a scrimmage for fun.
But this is intramural sports after college! This brings me to my next point…
4. You realize you can still win.
You have a short-handed team and feel like you might have to chalk one up in the loss column, but you look over at the opposing team fumbling about during warm ups and there might be a chance that you could actually win. So you decide to play.
Then you pull it off against all odds.
5. The old-school guy
Any sporting equipment this guy has is at least a decade old. This guy shows up fashionably late to warm ups and does a half-assed warm up. But when the game starts he means nothing but business.
The old school guy is no BS and gets results. He’s also known as a ringer in some leagues. He’s the MVP for sure, but doesn’t want any accolades. But he’ll be back next season and he’ll resume business as usual.
6. The high-tech gear guy
This guy has all the latest sporting equipment. He’s a relative beginner to the sport and his skills are bad to mediocre. But he’s the most enthusiastic person on the team.
He shows up early to the game and does a proper warm up that he probably learned on YouTube. He’s also known to organize additional practice sessions. The old-school guy is the only one who doesn’t show up to these practice sessions.
7. The semi-pro beginner
“So what college did you play at?”
“Oh, I didn’t play in college. I just started playing this year actually.”
At some point you’ll encounter a freak athlete who just takes up a sport and ends up being way better than anyone else.
Let’s be honest, if you were a decent athlete at some point, you probably daydreamed about how you could’ve prolonged your playing career. But you encounter the semi-pro beginner and realize people like this are the reason why. There would be no way you could ever compete against the semi-pro beginners if they actually grew up playing a sport.
8. Lifetime sports start to sound more appealing
Golf, tennis, leisurely bike rides, and even hiking start to sound more attractive.
Hiking is just walking in the woods, but it’s a sport if you buy the gear, right?
9. Petty Shit
At some point petty shit breaks out. The softball pitcher throws a 10-MPH arc, high and inside to back you off the plate, or some verbal altercation breaks out over something ridiculous play.
You would think people grow out of stuff like this, but no. In fact, a fight recently broke out at a charity hockey game between the NYPD and NYFD. This is supposed to be a charity game among professionals.
Postgame Dairy Queen as a kid might turn into pint glasses and wings, but we’re all just a bunch of big children in many ways. Rivalry is rivalry no matter what the stakes are.
Here’s a video to that hockey fight:
10. It all comes back
Before leagues or any other organized sports, there were times when you were a kid and you played with whoever was around. There were no responsibilities and no worries. You got into fights and argued with others, but you still kept playing.
The game was all there was.
One day in your post-college intramural career, you’ll look up at the lights, or smell the stench of sweat on old sports equipment in the air and all those memories will come rushing back to you.
It becomes fun again.