Yes, I play softball for my company team.
Let me rephrase that.
I USED TO play softball for my company team.
A few days ago I experienced the ultimate guy nightmare: the ball hit me where no man ever deserves to get hit. And hard. REALLY hard.
I went down like a pile of skin and bones as the sky turned every color but blue. After gathering myself (as best I could) I sped home, a bottle of cold Gatorade glued to my groin, ready to show the damage to any state trooper who even considered pulling me over.
Fear not friends, I’m on the mend – almost as good as new. Things were close to being really ugly, and I consider myself lucky, as crazy as it sounds.
Let’s get to the reason at hand – company softball teams – and why they serve the company so much more then they serve YOU – the player.
HOW IT BENEFITS YOU
Fun. Any “athlete” enjoys playing the game. It’s not always easy to rustle up eight of your closest friends, secure a field, and a play a game. A corporate team leaves the organization to them. You just show up and play.
Internal Connections. Rather then just a head nod in the hallway, you get to build relationships with staffers you might normally not have interactions with. If internal mobility really existed, this would be a great strategy to get to know the “other side” of the building. Not only will it help increase your exposure, but it also helps both sides by promoting “team building.”
HOW IT BENEFITS THE COMPANY
Walking Ads. Any reputable softball team needs a uniform. Notice how the company logo and/or name often works itself into the mix? Here you are, at a crowded park in the summer, emblazed with the company image. Not only will hundreds of people see the billboard on your back during the course of a season, but the company will also get exposure on softball Web sites. And if you win the championship, that trophy will be a talking point for years to come.
The Boys Club Lives On. To be fair, some companies do have co-ed softball teams. However, in my experience, most company teams tend to be male-only clubs. A place where “the boys” can show the other “boys” that they are typical “boys.” While not as misogynistic as a 50 Cent album, women certainly are talked about as second class citizens. Does this practice keep the glass ceiling nice and low for the ladies? Maybe.
No Liability. The company gets all the perks mentioned above with no risk. That’s because every player must sign a no liability clause stating that the company is not responsible if you get nailed in the testicles. However, you’re still helping to promote the company – without the safety coverages you’d be eligible for if this marketing was taking place under the company’s roof.
HOW IT HURTS EVERYONE
Injuries Happen. This year I’ve seen guys break legs, pull hamstrings and get bruised from head to toe. Aside from medical woes, these aches and pains also lead to employees taking sick time. This stinks for employees (cause we all rather use those sick days to play hooky) and it sucks for employers – especially if people are out for an extended period of time.
Competitive Nature. I’ll never forget when one of our quiet computer guys almost ripped an umpire’s head off. Or when a <title removed> trash talked just about every player under his breath after every at bat. Some people are impressed when an employee shows fire on the field, but others, I’m sure, find it to be a huge turn off. Casual time away from the office reveals people’s true tendencies, and this information follows you back to the office.
Odds are your company team is winding down its season. However, I advise you weigh the pros and cons before signing up next year. You might hit a game winning World Series home run and get that promotion. Or you might just get hit in the balls. Choose wisely…and please wear a cup.
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