Team Sports: Don’t Be Afraid to Pick Up the Ball

By Paula Santonocito

Q. My department is forming a softball team to compete against other department teams in the company. Everyone is enthusiastically signing up. The problem is I’m not a very good athlete. What should I do?

A.  You need to recognize this situation for what it is. Company softball teams are rarely about athletic ability. Sure, a few wannabe pros can be found among the ranks, and, yes, everyone wants to win. However, another dynamic is afield here.

Workplace softball teams are a chance to socialize with your coworkers, and to show you’re a team player.

So, what do you do?

First, be honest with yourself. Are you really not a good athlete or would you rather not spend time outside the workplace with the same folks you see for most of your waking life? If it’s the latter, then it’s a different issue.

Let’s assume you aren’t a very good athlete. In fact, the very thought of playing softball triggers gym class flashbacks; you can still hear the girls cackling as you pick up the bat and skulk to home plate.

In this case, you have two choices: Either you play, and do the best you can while enjoying your adulthood perspective that participation is what counts, or you sit it out.

However, sitting it out doesn’t have to mean turning down an opportunity to interact. Why not sign up anyway, only not as a player?

Every team needs a bat girl, make that bat woman. Put your name on the roster and note your role. You probably want to forego the (other) bat woman costume, but that will depend on your personality and your work environment.

At the very least, the move will allow you to be candid about your lack of ability; in fact, when questioned, you can follow it up with a comment like “trust me; you wouldn’t want me batting cleanup.” At the same time, you can show you’re fun and a team player.

What will you do once opening day arrives?

Cheer your coworkers on. Workplace sports are all about camaraderie. And, happily for you, when it comes to team spirit, bat woman can easily tap her superpowers.

Have a question? Email Paula here.