Jackie Storer / Lantern photographer
A measly white T-shirt is seemingly all that is at stake. And yet, it felt like so much more as we walked off the softball field Monday night on the wrong side of a walk-off win in the final four of our intramural softball bracket.
The pitcher who gave up the final hit agonized over decisions made and opportunities missed. Our outfielder who lost sight of a fly ball leading to a run could not yet forgive himself for the mistake. A shirt was on the line, but it might as well have been a World Series trophy.
In the long run, all of this is mostly irrelevant. As we eventually move on from college life and into the real world, it is doubtful that an intramural hockey championship will make the difference on a job resume. But as my friend moves within weeks of his graduation date, a main focus of his right now is the intramural championship that is missing on his “college resume.” And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that.
My father used to tell stories of his intramural tournaments from his college days. I heard many a time about the softball championship he had to show up late for because of a pesky final exam, the flag football championship against the hated rival fraternity, and the floor hockey team that always had each other’s back. Interesting as they were, I was not yet able to relate to them. I understand it now.
In the midst of all of the exams, homework and studying that we endure in an attempt to earn a piece of paper that will hopefully lead to a career, we are making memories during our time here at school. They are unique to each student, but intramural sports fall under that umbrella. Because most students led some sort of athletic career before we arrived at OSU, the competitive spirit is still within us. So while we might not be good enough to run out of the tunnel as a member of the Buckeye football team on Saturdays in the fall, we will settle for co-ed, B-league flag football. And we’ll be damned if we’re not going to give it our all to win that title.
Sure, nobody outside our team will really care about the glorious victory (or devastating loss) and the thrilling story that accompanies it. We might lose the T-shirt that served as our prize. But years from now, when we meet up with our friends again, we will reminisce about that shared memory. And that is what this entire experience is all about.
So while my friends and I might have looked like a bunch of idiots throwing water at other canoes in the human battleship tournament we took part in at the aquatic center last week, we did not care. And yeah, the results of the intramural hockey tournament will not be dominating the news cycle. But after two championship game losses, I need to come up with a win. So if the disappointment and despair written all over my friend’s face after our softball loss might have seemed over the top, I understood it. Because win or lose, we will look back on these games and, in a broader sense, our time here at college and we will re-live the stories and enjoy those memories. It’s just that the memory is always easier to enjoy with a win.