Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brooklyn Kickball: Community In Action.


We have lost community in most of this country. Community means something other than parallel dwellings inside which people sleep or observe electronic screens. Community means connection and involvement with all your neighbors -- old and young, married, divorced, single, widowed, black, white, hispanic, Asian -- all the religions -- all of it, having some interaction that is positive, getting to know each other or at least recognize each other.

But in Brooklyn, they've still got community. Community with a local flare, and lots of attitude.

Take Brooklyn kickball. What a riot. Started in 2003, the Brooklyn Kickball league now has over 30 teams that play in the league from April through October, usually on Sundays in McCarren Park in Brooklyn.

Here's the Brooklyn kickball league webpage with all the information. Kickball, like the little kids play in school. Which means everybody can be on a team, pretty much, even if they're not some super athlete. And anybody who doesn't want to play can always come out to watch, hang out, eat, and cheer on their favorites.

The names of the teams are very clever: The Government Kick-backs; The Non-Committals; Brooklyn United; Never Scared; the Pony Boys; The Crucial Taunt; The Drinkers With A Kicking Problem. The players also have creative nicknames, such as Justin “Nipple” Taylor, Rob “Matzo” Lotzko, Lexi “Governor” Patterson, Autumn “Prison” Jorgensen, Tank “The Frank” Moylan, and Matt “Marquis De” Sadewitz.

They often have very creative costumes, too. Here are some team photos:

In addition to spending all day Sunday in McCarren Park from the spring through the fall, playing, watching the other teams, being a spectator, eating, drinking, laughing, hanging out, just getting outside and being part of it, the Brooklyn Kickball teams also sometimes have parties, dances, and other activities.

Like in all sports, there is a "commissioner" of kickball in Brooklyn, and there are sometimes conflicts between the players and the commissioner. It's just that the way in which these conflicts are discussed is a little different, a little more folksy in a Brooklyn kind of way, than the MBA/Harvard Law agents we're used to hearing when there is a dispute in professional (big money) sports in this country.

Here's how one such dispute between a Brooklyn kickballer Robert L. who played on a dominant team named Prison, and the Brooklyn kickball commissioner Kevin Dailey played out in the press:

"[F]ormer kickballer Robert L. confirms. 'I told [38-year-old Brooklyn Kickball commissioner] Kevin Dailey he was a fat fuck and to go sniff coke."

[Kickballer Robert L. continues]: "[Brooklyn Kickball] allows people to reinvent themselves... [Commissioner] Kevin Dailey is now the coolest guy on earth every sunday night to 32 teams with 10 or more people on it. And every person on every team is the coolest person who ever moved to Brooklyn."

[Kickballer Robert continues]: "I work out alot and have a typical "jock" build. So everyone skinny hipster is afraid of me ... and you have 120 pound boys who look like girls being scared and complaining about our team. ... [Commissioner] Kevin Daily hates me and my whole team!"

"For his part, Kickball Commissioner Kevin Daily wrote in a letter:"

"Despite all the bullshit swarming around me for the last couple of years, I'm still here. Not anonymous calls to the Parks Department, selective cutting and pasting, or will keep me away. Still standing. I have no reason to go. I've done a fucking excellent job...."

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