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Charlie Hatton
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I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Athletics for the Rest of Us

I’m thirty-six. I’m competitive. And I’m not particularly svelte, in the traditional sense of the word.

(Or in any sense, really. I just wanted to make it sound a little less flabbety. I failed. And we move on.)

“Trust me — our games are unhelpable. It doesn’t matter which shoes we wear — we’ll still have two-inch verticals and run thirty-three second forty yard dashes.”

Given my unfortunate-but-not-so-uncommon circumstances, I find myself playing various fat old man sports, like softball and pool and golf. Though it’s often less ‘play’, and more ‘attempt to play’. Or ‘make sure my pants aren’t falling down while the ball sails past me’. When you’ve developed your body into a fully unhoned, unoiled, and creaky machine like mine, those are pretty much the same thing.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to give something back to my fellow huffing and puffing sporting compatriots. For those other aging, husky ‘athletes’ out there, I’m happy to present:

The Fat Old Man Sport ‘Rules of Engagement’

1. It’s okay to let them see you sweat. If you didn’t sweat, you’d keel over in a quivery heap in the middle of the game. So sweat it up. You weren’t going to look pretty out there anyway.

2. One of the worst things you can do is to change directions suddenly. That’s how fat old men get hurt. If you’re particularly old, you could break an ankle, or even a hip. And if you’re especially fat, that quick shift in momentum might get you slapped in the back with a roll of your own flab. That’s a big ‘ouchie’ in the pride department; personally, I think I’d prefer the shattered hip.

3. If you should find yourself on the ground — whether knocked there, fallen there, or collapsed there after a short sprint — don’t get up too quickly. When we were lithe young warriors, the goal was to leap up to prove to the opponent that we weren’t hurt. At this point, our primary concern should be preventing a coronary while we’re crawling to the bench.

4. The latest wave of fancy athletic shoes and equipment are not for us. The only reason to buy and wear the hot new Mike Vick cleats or AI cross-trainers is that they might help your game. Trust me — our games are unhelpable. It doesn’t matter which shoes we wear — we’ll still have two-inch verticals and run thirty-three second forty yard dashes. Sometimes, it doesn’t gotta be the shoes.

5. At no time should you run so hard during a game that your manboobs jiggle. Nobody wants to see that; for your aging pride’s sake, make sure it never happens. If you feel you must move quickly, then make certain to wear a shirt sufficiently loose to hide any doob movement that might occur. If you’re comfortable enough in your masculinity to pull it off, a muumuu is perfect for this purpose. It’s not stylish, but it gets the job done.

6. Your taunting days after a good play or win are over. Not so much because it’s unbecoming for an old fart who probably didn’t contribute much in the first place to get in the other team’s grill. It is unbecoming — but you’re out there in your thirty-year-old Chuck Taylors and a pink muumuu; what do you care about ‘unbecoming’? The bigger issue is that you’re ancient and fragile. One errant finger waggle, and you could be sitting out for weeks. Don’t risk it, grandpa.

7. It is acceptable to gently rib the whippersnappers on your own team with the occasional ‘When I was your age…‘ story. But if you do, you can never complain about your creaky joints or aching back in front of them again, or they’ll taunt you mercilessly into the offseason. Decide whether you’re ‘annoying pedantic old guy’ or ‘one foot in the grave complaining old guy’, and stick with it.

8. Three words: ‘shirts and skins’. Just walk away. Unless you’re one of the captains, and for your first pick you plan to choose, ‘leave my tent on and not unleash my hairy beer gut on an unsuspecting crowd‘, then walk away. Otherwise, there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll be out there playing, and looking from the waist up like a wrinkled-up Jabba the Hutt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds. No, thanks.

9. By all means, stretch your muscles out before playing any sort of sport. In this context, you can take ‘sport’ to mean ‘walking to the bathroom’, ‘getting out of bed’, or ‘scratching your ample ass’. These are strenuous and aerobic activities for our kind; prepare yourself accordingly. Just don’t overstretch; there’s nothing quite so exquisitely painful as being carted off the field with a tweaked hammy or groin before you’ve even taken off your warmup togs.

10. You’re still allowed to go out after the game for beers with the team. In fact, you’re encouraged — in your condition, it’s appropriate to celebrate simply getting through a game in one piece. Just be aware that those extra hours sitting your can on a bar stool will give those creaky muscles time to tighten up and give you grief. You may well need to call a cab to get home — not because you’re drunk, but because you simply won’t be able to use your legs for a couple of days. Just try explaining that to a cop giving you a field sobriety test.

Hopefully, these tips will help the other fat old guys out there play sports the way that we fat old guys should play — slowly, without injury, and with a minimum of exposed aging flesh. There’ll be plenty of time for slipped discs and bare flabby chests when we’re relegated to our rocking chairs.

Which in my case will be any day now. You might want to avert your eyes; it’s not going to be pretty. I’ll do my best to keep my muumuu on; it seems like the sporting thing to do.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “Athletics for the Rest of Us”

  1. Roofie Raccoon says:

    You make me fear for my own sense of aging.

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