Magazine article Newsweek

Trends: All for the Love of the Game

Magazine article Newsweek

Trends: All for the Love of the Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Catharine Skipp and Kimberly Dishongh

Amy Smith, 25, wasn't exactly out for blood when she ambled up to home plate in Allsopp Park in Little Rock, Ark. She sized up the pitcher as he rolled a large red rubber ball in her direction, then cocked her right foot back and connected--barely. The ball dribbled out a few feet, just enough for her to make a slow jog to first base. A few minutes later, she got tagged out at second. Hardly anyone noticed. Play was suspended as both teams swarmed into the bleachers for fresh margaritas prepared by their fans.

If you made it through second grade, chances are good you're familiar with kickball. Now tens of thousands of adults are forming kickball leagues for grown-ups. The World Adult Kickball Association (which charges players $60 to join) boasts 20,000 players who compete in tournaments and win prizes. Scores of independent leagues --whose players often show up for games wearing antlers, throw water balloons during a dull inning and use a Slip 'N Slide instead of a base--are holding weekly practices and games from Seattle to Brooklyn.

For some, it's a team sport perfectly adapted for middle-aged knees. Others say it's a reaction against the sports industry. Kickball players, says Shawn Madden, 28, of Seattle, are sick of lockouts, steroid scandals, players making millions and $8 beers. "People want to connect with sports on their own level. They want it to be a game, not a corporate machine. …

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