Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Sports Fraternity

While there are other opportunities to “network” with other people outside sports, my husband the jock introduced me to the largest fraternity out there.  Yes, sports.  It was how we found our real estate broker (Lisa Owens with Reality Trust – she’s awesome, by the way), how he found contractors, and how he got some job interviews.  Other interest/obsession – based or profession-based fraternities seem wan in comparison to the sports fraternity.  Somehow, weekly knitting groups or even annual science fiction conventions don’t provide the same degree of camaraderie or scope of networking opportunities sports do.

My husband, who tends to serve as my example to illustrate everything I know about sports, plays both pick-up and organized basketball in the community and through his work, playing with both people he’s known for years and an ever revolving and evolving list of others.  He’s been doing this for all his life, basically.  He tells me there’s always people interested in shooting hoops, and he’s living proof of it.  The people he plays with span a large swath of the populace in different professions, different walks of life.  And they all bond over basketball.

Even as a boy, sports was my husband’s key to surviving a lot of new schools; he and his family moved around a lot when he was growing up, but he was able to circumvent a lot of new-kid hazing; he tells me his first question when he showed up at a new school was, “When are try-outs for *blank – fill in sport currently in season*, and who do I speak to?”  Once he joined a team he became part of the “fraternity”.  It helped that he was a good at sports.

Over the years, he’s also been able to gauge other people by playing team sports with them.  Playing basketball with co-workers at his job has provided a lot of relevant information regarding how they play with each other in the cubicles.  The analogy is straightforward: do they buckle or fade out under pressure, hog the ball, take ill-advised shots, commit hard fouls, dispute referee calls, or are they unselfish with the ball, aware of their own ball-handling strength and limitations, have good court vision, rising up to the occasion with “ice-water in their veins” under pressure?

Certainly businesses have business-speak versions of being a good team player, so it shouldn't be surprising that there’s correlation between competitive team sports and a functioning business; and, while the ostensible talk in business is all about cooperating, as in allowing the company to make money, get ahead of its competitors, provide some product or service, keep employees relatively happy, in that order, the reality is that there will always be competition amidst the employees as each must show how he/she is contributing to making money, getting ahead of the competitors, providing outstanding product or service, and being relatively happy.

Arguably, competitive sports are an accurate analogy to a lot of other aspects of life in this dog-eat-dog, dog-play-with-dog world.

So where does that leave, well, me?  Still here, with not-so-great eye-hand coordination.  My husband tells me that sports is an inclusive rather than exclusive fraternity, however.  Although my main skill would be bench-warming, he assures me that if I were genuinely interested (a big “if”) I would be welcomed.  And I would even get contractor referrals if I asked.

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