Despite threatening to stop playing kickball several times over the past few years, I can’t seem to quit the adult version of everyone’s favorite children’s playground game. I no longer travel to the National Mall in DC for my kickball fix, instead opting to play in a local league with a few of my co-workers.Since I was the one who proposed the idea of a team, I decided to take upon the role of captain. Back in my kickball heyday, I would take my job as captain VERY seriously. I spent a lot of time formulating strategy, coming up with lineups, and writing long recaps of each game.
I’m not quite as intense these days. Fortunately, we’ve got a small team, so there’s not much work to be done. It’s more a case of making sure everyone is facing the right direction and knows when it is their turn to kick. Of course, considering that we’re 0-3 right now, maybe a little extra intensity is in order.
The return to captainhood made me think about a post on the subject of captaining that I wrote for the kickball league’s blog a few years back. (Yes, I wrote stuff for the league’s blog too.) With nothing else pressing to write about, I decided to re-visit that post and share it with you. (I made a few edits for timeliness and to remove a few league-specific details.)
O Captain, My Captain
Congratulations! You have chosen to become the captain of a kickball team! Prepare for all the glory and adulation that comes along with that title. But don’t get TOO excited – this job comes with real responsibilities. Unless you want to simply shirk all your duties as captain (a course of action that many captains unfortunately opt to take), you’re going to have to put in some effort.
I’m not saying you need to dedicate all of your time and energy towards captaining. Not everyone has the time nor desire to carefully cultivate a lineup, and then later write a lengthy “recap” email that only minimally touches on what happened in the game. No, that is the territory of the truly great captains. For you mere mortals, you can probably do a suitable job with a lot less effort.
The way I see it, a captain simply needs to facilitate his team having fun and put them in a position to win games. Whether or not a team actually has fun or wins is largely up to the team itself, but a good captain can go a long way toward making that happen.
Of course, this can be a tough balance. Even on the most fun of teams, people will get discouraged if they lose all their games and aren’t competitive. And if a captain takes the desire to win too far, it’s not as much fun for everybody.
Remember, this is a social league, so captains should try their best not to be like this guy:
In order to gain further insight on the art of captaining, I gathered up some famous captains from around the world for a round table discussion.
Joining me today are:
Steve Yzerman, former Detroit Red Wings captainCaptain Planet, environmental superhero David Beckham, former captain of the British football team James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise Cap’n Crunch, cereal spokesperson
Cutter: Thanks to everyone for joining me. I wanted to start out by asking what makes you a successful captain.
Planet: That’s easy; I’m one fifth heart! And heart is all a good captain needs.
Crunch: It also helps if your players eat a healthy breakfast. That’s where I come in!
Yzerman: But your cereal, it is not healthy.Crunch: Like my commercials say, it’s PART of a healthy breakfast, along with eggs, juice, and perhaps a multi-vitamin or two.
Beckham: I’ll be honest with you: Most of my success is due to my good looks. If I didn’t look like a model, would anyone really give a crap about me?
Kirk: I agree with that. My good looks made me an effective leader and allowed me to have sex with women of all sorts of alien races.
Yzerman: But you don’t have to be good looking. In Canada, I’m still considered a sex symbol, eh?
Beckham: You play hockey, so expectations are lowered. In football it is a different story. I owe almost all of my fame to my handsome face, my chiseled abs, and the fact that I married a pop star.
Kirk: *laughs* A pop star? I wouldn’t go quite that far.
Beckham: The Spice Girls first album went platinum eight times! How many times did The Transformed Man go platinum?
Kirk: Hey, that album was a classic. It was just before it’s time.
Crunch: I had the Spice Girls CD back in the day! Which one was your wife?Beckham: The skinny brunette with the disproportionately big rack.
Crunch: Oh. I preferred the blond one.
Yzerman: The sad thing is, the stupid Spice Girls are more famous in America than I am. And I won the Stanley Cup three times!
Beckham: Americans at least consider hockey to be a major sport. I came to the States and the sport still couldn’t draw ratings.
Yzerman: Major sport? Hardly. Maybe in places like Washington where the local teams have been so bad that they’ll jump aboard the bandwagon of any team that gives them some hope. But most of the country doesn’t give a crap.
Beckham: Well, isn’t it considered to be “cool” to like hockey?
Yzerman: Maybe back in the ’90s, eh? Hockey stopped being cool right around the same time your wife stopped being relevant. You want to know how unnoticed hockey is in the U.S? That picture up there? It isn’t even me! That’s my teammate Niklas Lidstrom. But I bet nobody reading this even noticed, eh?Beckham: I don’t get Americans. All a bunch of wankers if you ask me. Especially that Landon Donovan guy. No wonder the sport never became popular if he was considered the country’s best player.
Cutter: Let’s move on. What would you say has been your biggest challenge as a captain.
Planet: Climate change deniers. People used to love it when I showed up to save the day. These days, half the people just throw things at me and call me a tool of the liberal media.
Crunch: For me, it was when I had to stop the Soggies. They were a real menace!
Beckham: What the hell are you talking about?
Crunch: The Soggies – They’re an alien race dedicated to making cereal soggy.
Yzerman: And you stopped them? You’re like two feet tall, eh? What did you do to them, cut the roof of their mouths?
Crunch: Cap’n Crunch does not cut the roof of your mouth! Those are lies! Lies!
Kirk: The Soggies? That’s nothing. Try fighting the Borg some time.Yzerman: Wait, you never fought the Borg!
Kirk:I know, but now that my timeline was rebooted I probably will.
Planet: What was up with that whole timeline alteration thing, anyway?
Kirk: Seriously, I don’t know. It didn’t make much sense to me either. But it’s not like we should have expected logic in time travel when the movie was written by the creator of Lost.
Planet: Speaking of movies, did you hear that they’re making a movie about me?
Kirk: Dear Lord, that is going to suck so hard. Is Hollywood really that out of ideas?
Planet: Pretty much. I’m just hoping that they have Vin Diesel play me.
Beckham: I would go with Rob Schneider.
Planet: You better watch it. You don’t want to get on my bad side. I can go HAM if I want to:
Cutter: Guys, we’re running low on time. Is there anything you’d like to add?
All: Do you have –
Cutter: Keeping in mind that I already explained that I don’t have any illegal drugs with me.
Cutter: Thank you, guys. This has been quite educational.