So this is what it came down to last Sunday: Three years of playing IM basketball, and finally (finally!) I had my title shot. After three years of never advancing past the second round of the playoffs, playing for the last time with two of my best friends whom I”ve known for 10 years (for anonymity”s sake we”ll call them “Jon” and “Steve”), we finally found ourselves in the finals of coed, AB playoffs.
I”ve experienced every kind of loss and played every kind of team in basketball with “Jon” and “Steve”. But perhaps because no all-5-foot-11 league is offered, we haven”t gotten a basketball title. I”ve seen nearly all of my friends win at something, be it soccer, tennis, racquetball or wrestling but the three of us have never won a championship.
I thought it was our time. I wanted to finally say that I”ve plunked down hundreds of dollars and played nearly half the sports offered, but at least I got this lousy T-shirt.
I thought it was meant to be.
Down by just one at halftime, I could taste it. But it turns out that it actually wasn”t meant to be. In fact, I wasn”t the only one that wanted that lousy T-shirt. We got behind by 14 quickly in the second half and the opposing team never looked back. We got as close as four with two minutes left, but sadly, that was as close as we came. Our basketball career together ended without a title.
So yesterday we signed up for mini-soccer and broomball.
But don”t let my experience on Sunday fool you. We aren”t trying to fish with dynamite here (“We”re bound to hit somethin”!”). Even if I graduate without winning a title, I can still say that I”ve had an incredible time playing IM sports.
Freshman year, I missed high school. But what I decided was that some of my best times in high school were playing on athletic teams, and IM sports were the best way to replicate that at Michigan. I didn”t want a Cameron Crowe to Ridgemont High sort of thing, but it is nice to be able to capture a little bit of what I was missing. Plus it keeps you “in shape.” (Are you supposed to gain 15 pounds per year or is that just for the first year?)
For me, IM sports eliminated much of what I hated about playing high school sports. I could play as much or as little as I wanted without parents, coaches, etc. telling me what to do.
Instead of missing the Fresh Prince episode where Carlton and Will dance to “Apache” to run wind sprints, you can control where and when you want to play.
Instead of kissing the coach”s ass to get playing time, you are the coach.
Instead of playing alongside that kid you can”t stand, you can play with a group of your friends.
There are a total of 38 sports that are offered during fall, winter, spring and summer terms by the IM sports program. All of the classics are here, such as basketball, football and softball, but if those aren”t up your alley, there are plenty of other options. Try wallyball or innertube water polo.
In each sport, the play can be social or competitive. Nobody here is playing for a scholarship or money unless you plan on making a Freddie Hunter-esque leap to the basketball team. If you played high school tennis, then put together an A-level team. If you are still working on the dynamics of throwing a football, put together a C-level flag football team. Even if you can”t gather an entire team, the free agent board helps you find a group that may be a few players short.
Believe it or not, the college experience should not strictly be pounding 10 beers per night, or for that matter, pounding out 10 lab experiments per night. It should be somewhere in between, something like one beer per lab experiment. (Got that?)
For me, IM sports helped fill in the gaps that were missing in my first year here. So go out there, get a group of friends together and find a sport you enjoy. You won”t regret it even if you can”t get that elusive T-shirt.
Jeff Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.