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Ross Maak: Age no matter for these athletes

Monday night I found myself looking forward to turning 50.

I’m still a ways off (I turned 37 recently), but knowing the Gold Country Senior Softball Association is there waiting for me in 13 years is a good feeling.

I’ve never been much of a competitor in sports. That’s probably because I’m about as athletically gifted as I am psychic. Maybe that’s why I’ve never found a good way to combine competitiveness and fun.



If the only way you’ll ever be happy is to win, most people are disappointed about half the time. After all, someone’s gotta lose. Most teams I’m involved on lose more than they win. If we were competitive, we wouldn’t be any better, just more depressed.

I love to watch sports, and I love to watch other people being competitive. I’m also competitive in things I have a fighting chance in, like playing cribbage against my wife and, besides this past year anyway, fantasy football.




But through years of perseverance, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t make a complete ass of myself every time I step on the softball diamond. In fact, I’ve actually made a couple pretty decent plays.

Well one, anyway, back in 1992. It was a sharp grounder … what? You don’t care? OK. I’ll move on.

So there I was at Gateway Park on Monday night watching the Gold Country Senior Softball Association’s All-Star Game. I wasn’t quite sure what the whole concept of the event was. Judging by the number of people there, I figured it had to be a fundraiser for something or someone.

There were a bunch of guys out there playing softball, which is not uncommon at Gateway Park. What was uncommon was the amount of people in the stands, the concession stand set up with all kinds of ballpark fare, the fact that the local television crew from Touchdown Productions was there and the fact that I was there to cover it.

With all the fanfare, it had to be bigger than just a softball game for some dudes over 50.

After all, adult-league softball games aren’t typically very high on the priority list of coverage events for local newspapers or television stations.

So what was so special about Monday’s games? To the players, it was a chance to celebrate competition and try to beat the tar out of the best players in their league.

Was it for fun? Yes. Was it competitive? Yes. How can that be? Most of my experience in sports revolves around the fact that if you’re competitive, there’s no way you can be happy if you lose.

Yet the players on Monday all seemed to have a good time, win or lose. They certainly didn’t want to lose, and no one was sandbagging, but players were trying their best and smiling when the game was over – win or lose.

Maybe, just maybe, with age comes experience. I’ll be darned.

The seniors know they’re not in the best physical shape of their lives. That’s why a couple simple rule changes are made – such as being allowed to run past second and third rather than being forced to slide.

But that hasn’t stopped them from giving it their all. Most of the players were covered in sweat after the games, proving the competitive level.

So congrats to all those who made the All-Star teams, and congrats to those who went to watch and support their fathers, grandfathers and friends.

One final note. When I approached the event, I couldn’t help but notice publisher Jeff Ackerman doing color commentary for Touchdown Productions.

When I asked him why he wasn’t playing, he said, “The only way I can make the All-Star team is at the mike.”

Even those who weren’t playing found a way to have fun.

ooo

To contact Sports Writer Ross Maak, e-mail rmaak@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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