I recently overheard someone say the words: "Softball is a girl's sport". And of course, being a "girl's sport" (despite actually being co-ed), this alpha male couldn't possibly bring himself to join in and play.
Overlooking the whole gender issue here, I took it as a positive the man in question acknowledged softball as a sport. Small victories, as they say.
To put into context; I have also previously had the pleasure of overhearing, during a casual game in the softball Lawyer League, a man state confidently: "Softball is not a sport and should therefore not be taken seriously." During another game, this time in a different league, one kind person decided to impart his wisdom upon the group declaring softball was "hardly a demanding game".
This is effectively the equivalent of judging football by your company's five-a-side team who play during lunch, but instead of arguing I've decided the best retaliation is education.
For those of you out there who think softball is neither a sport nor for males, I'd like you to tell that to the men who hit 400ft bombs over fences; to the several people who I've seen play, and who I've occasionally played with, who can throw a ball so fast and hard you can hear it zip as it cuts through the air towards you; to the females who can smash a ball as far and hard as their male teammates, and to the GB women's Fastpitch squad, which is ranked fifth in Europe.
I'd also like to invite you down to an indoor session of softball - which many of us play during the winter to keep our eye in the game and groundwork hot. It's played on a five-a-side football court where, in some positions, you stand mere feet away from the batting box containing some of the best players in the country, male and female, with only your glove and - hopefully quick - reaction skills to protect your face.
Oh - and in case you were wondering - don't be fooled by the name. A softball is not a soft ball. It's actually pretty hard. So much so that when one hit me in the face, it broke my nose.
Shrugging off softball as an effeminate, lazy sport is not only ignorant but is an insult to the work of so many individuals and organisations who have worked to spread this sport across the world, such as BSUK.
Of course, at the lower levels, it isn't a particularly taxing game. But that goes for all sports. However, at NSL and A-comp level, it's a whole different ball game. Literally. Anyone wanting to try out for the GB squads are required to meet minimum fitness standards and won't get a look in if they don't meet the criteria.
Not to mention the physical endurance test which comes with playing in 50 degree heat if you're lucky enough to travel to the States to play.
So next time I overhear someone sneering that softball is a girl's game, or not a real sport, I'll promptly hand them a glove, stick them at shortstop, and get a couple of the GB men - and women - to hit a few balls their way.
I'm sure that'll soon change their mind.Suggest a correction