Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Holla Staff Lavished with Further Awards

Guatemalans love recreational sports leagues. I actually don't have any evidence to support that claim, but it sounds better than the statement I can support: Guatemalans who play recreational sports leagues get really into them. Your correspondent is now proud owner of a medal, awarded by the appropriate sanctioned authorities. The obverse of this medal reads, in its entirety: "Gatorade" with the little Gatorade lightning-bolt logo. The reverse reads, in part, "Pollo Rey" with a little picture of a chicken wearing a crown; then, smaller, "Champions, Group C." I earned this prize for playing sporadically on 7-man soccer team, which won the title for the entry-level division.

I guess I haven't really played organized sports as an adult in the U.S. But most leagues I'm aware of might involve everyone chipping in for a team t-shirt, and the teams might win a chintzy trophy at the end of the season. In this, and several other Guatemalan leagues I'm aware of, the rec league is like a full-blown pretend version of the real thing. There are full teams of referees (of questionable quality), medals for the winners (?!), games happen during prime evening and weekend hours, and most unusual of all, everyone has to buy full-on matching uniforms. For example, a friend joined up with the Embassy-associated softball team and was not allowed to play at first because he didn't have full-on sliding pants. The uniforms that the softball team have to invest in are ridiculous Triple-A caliber getups with matching socks and everything.

The soccer league your correspondent (sporadically) participated in was particularly funny because you need to buy a full uniform, but apparently nobody could think of a uniform that didn't already exist. Or maybe everyone just wanted to play out their fantasies of being on a famous international soccer team. As a result, all the teams in the league had uniforms that were direct copies of Real Madrid, Juventus, or in one case, the English national side, with the little St. George's Cross and everything. In one particularly storied evening, your correspondent's team, decked out like a little 7-man version of FC Barcelona in their blinding yellow alternate kit. We faced off against our hated rivals, a less talented 7-man version of FC Barcelona in their blinding yellow alternate kit. After a full (short) half of very confusing football, someone pulled out seven of those pull-over tank top things that you use to designate the second team at a practice where everyone is normally on the same team and therefore wearing the same uniform on purpose. Despite an especially hard-fought game, with the blinding yellow unis of our oppenents topped with hunter-safety blaze-orange tanks, the only injuries were to the eyes of unfortunate spectators. And the lesson (hopefully) learned is to not pick the uniform of last year's European Champions for your team kit.

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