Headline Muse, 8/16

Though for others, it seems a bit odd,
Winning games isn’t big for this squad
If you don’t score a goal
They can still win your soul
Cos they play to bring glory to god

Headline: Christian pro soccer team: ‘Scoring souls, not goals’

Ok, not so much a headline as a CNN blog post, but close enough. I only wanted to write about this team because they are seen as so anomalous, and their anomaly is attributed to their faith. I’m here to tell you, it ain’t necessarily so.

Back in college, I was a member of an intramural team (I’ll give you their name in a bit); depending on the season, we played softball, basketball, volleyball, or ultimate frisbee. We were sort of the B version of a separate team that was far more typical of the intramural league. Our team, not so typical. Other teams loved to play us, for two reasons. First, they got a win. Second, they got a fun game.

Now, you might think we were not very good. You’d be wrong. We played hard, and usually scored more points than the opposing team. But our team operated by a different set of rules. For one, before each and every game… (expected phrase: “we would pray”), we would officially forfeit that game. That’s right, we lost the game before we even played it. For two, our hard and fast rule was “never argue a call”. If the first base umpire missed a call by a mile, so what?

With winning and arguing tossed out, the only thing remaining was to compete, play a great game, and have fun. Given that it is more fun to play well, you’d still see us diving after a spiked volleyball or laying out at full run after a frisbee. I personally ended more games than not, bleeding and injured. But smiling.

The object of any game, unofficially, was to have the most fun we could. But that was unofficial. Officially, the object of every game was “not to spill your beer”. (Easy for me–I did not drink at the time.)

The name of the team? “The Heathens.”


  1. Becca Stareyes says

    Back when our department fielded a summer recreational softball team*, there often would be games when either we or the other team didn’t have enough players. For one or two, we’d just loan a player to the other team. But, if there were enough players, even if the team distribution was uneven, we’d just mark down the game as a forfeit and play anyway. Because we signed up to play softball. Going home because we had three people show up, or the other team had one poor confused freshman meant we didn’t get to play.

    (We self-umped, as well. I don’t recall any major arguments started because… well, we wanted to play softball, not argue about whether the runner made it.)

    * A lot of the players were REU students with a grad student acting as team captain, so the team depends on the interest and number of summer undergrads hanging around.

  2. Die Anyway says

    re: “…bleeding and injured. But smiling.”

    When I grab my skimboard and head to the beach, my wife knows what I’ll say: “If I don’t come home bleeding, I didn’t have fun.”

    I like your idea of playing.

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