The 5 Most Frustrating Recreational Sports
I love sports, but like anything else, they can be maddeningly frustrating. I’m not a guy who takes failure very well, so spending four hours on a golf course hacking the ball around is infuriating. So yeah, here are the five most frustrating recreational sports:
5) Ping Pong
Ping-pong is like mini-tennis, which means it’s a thrill ride of elation and despondency. I have a ping-pong table in my basement, and while it’s hosted it’s fair share of fun times, it’s also produced a lot of splintered paddles, ping pong balls smashed in half, and slammed basement doors. Ping-pong is a fickle friend, and every time I think I’ve got the game figured out it will find some new way to stab me in the back. I’ll hit what feels like a perfect forehand smash only to have it sail out of bounds. My well placed dink will hit the net and bounce back onto my side. My opponent will hit one one of those shots where the ball nicks the edge of the table.
4) Candlepin Bowling
Give me a couple weeks of bowling practice, and I think I could be alright. But that’s the problem with bowling: there’s never a point where you can really practice. It’s always a game, and nobody wants to get risky in the middle of a round of bowling. I’ve hit the lanes a few times this summer, and the game is a freaking emotional rollercoaster. I’ve had some unbelievable highs, like when I bowled a 98. I’ve also had some soul-crushing lows, like when I bowled a 53 and came in dead last by at least 15 pins to the three other people I was with. There isn’t a more devastating feeling in all of sports then throwing what looks to be a perfect ball right down the middle of the lane only to have it, seemingly defying the laws of physics that govern the universe, knock down two pins. By that same token, there aren’t many more satisfying feelings in the sports world than just crushing a ball down the middle of the lane and watching the pins just collapse like a house of cards.
Bowling alleys themselves fall into two categories: family-first and sketchy as hell. Sophomore year of high school, bowling was huge and I used to go all the time. We went to a bowling alley right off a highway that was home to some of the worst people I’ve ever seen. Just despicable, low-life scumbags that really sucked the atmosphere out of the place. It’s tough to bowl when you’ve got tattooed degenerates screaming obscenities or brazenly hitting on sixteen year old girls. These are the alleys that produced this guy:
Family first alleys are somewhat of an improvement: you’re not going to get mugged, but you’re gonna get a heavy dose of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus tunes and scores of teenboppers taking up the lanes. These places are also big advocates of “glow-bowling” where they turn the lights off, put on one of those things that makes your clothes glow, and sporadically flash lights on the lanes.
While I’m on the subject of bowling, I need to throw two things out there. First, candlepin bowling is the way to go. Anyone who prefers “regular” or big-ball bowling is crazy. Candlepin requires so much more skill, plus it’s a New England tradition. I’ve seen little girls get a strike with the big balls by rolling it slowly down the middle of the lane. If you’re looking for a challenge, candlepin is the way to go. The second thing is that bowling is the most double-entendre laden game of all time, particularly when describing the candlepin/ten-pin dichotomy. Many an immature joke has been made at the poor sap who’s made the unfortunate declaration that he “prefers small balls.”
3) Flag Football
The weird thing about football is that even players who claim to love the game have played only a small number of actual football games in their life. I find it so strange that 95% of football consists of training and practice. Don’t know how they do; I suppose football players probably tell themselves that they have to make the most of those few games that they actually have. Anyway, flag football is actually a pretty decent attempt at capturing the spirit of football. The problem with it is simple: if you have two teams that are competitive, there is inevitably going to be a maelstrom of controversy, a lot of complaining from both sides, and a fight or two to boot.
Football is definitely the king of sports when it comes to the masculinity factor (basketball is a close second). Throw a couple teams of hypercompetitive dudes onto a field with very little rules in play and no one to enforce him, it’s just inevitable that somebody is going to get pissed off. I played in a flag football league in college for a couple years and my team got into a fight nearly every game. Granted, we were the best team and as Wilt Chamberlain so eloquently stated “nobody roots for Goliath.” But still, that’s pretty startling for an intramural league.
There are a few sort of unfixable flaws with flag football that ensure it will be annoying intramural players for years to come. The first is pass-interference. If you’re playing defense on a receiver, you might as well just hammer the guy, hold him, grab his shirt, jostle him whatever. Do whatever you can, nobody’s calling pass interference in a flag football game. Incidentally, this is where a lot of the fights stem from. The second flaw is that it’s damn near impossible to rush the quarterback. The way I’ve always played is that once the defense rushes the quarterback, the QB can then take off running. Obviously, this gives him a huge advantage, as all he has to do is avoid the onrushing defensive lineman and he’s off to the races. It also means that most defenses, unless they make a decision to put one of their fastest guys on the d-line, end up putting no pressure on the QB.
Finally, there’s the flag issue. Guys suck at grabbing flags, primarily because we don’t want to be reaching down in that area only to grab onto something that is not a flag, if you catch my drift. That’s why it’s good to have a girl or two on the team: they’re not afraid to just grab around down there. But since flag-grabbing is often ineffective, people take to either straight up tackling the ball-carrier or violently shoving him out of bounds, which again leads to more fighting.
If you want to be serviceable at golf, a person needs to put some serious hours into it. And even if you practice a ton, there’s no guarantee you’ll be good at it, you probably just won’t suck as much as everyone else. There are so many different facets that go into a round of golf that it’s very difficult for an amateur player to not look like a complete idiot out there. For instance, say you spend a day at the driving range working on your irons. Well, you’ve left out drives, putting, chipping, etc.
I play, or attempt to play, golf a couple times a year. Probably my biggest chance to showcase my t
The main reason why golf is so frustrating is because it’s so different than just about every other sport out there, and it requires very little athletic ability. If I’m playing something like volleyball, well, I’m far from a good volleyball player but I can at least use my athletic ability to have somewhat of a positive effect on the game. Golf is strictly a skill game, and if you’re not skilled you’re gonna be chasing a lot of balls.
I love tennis. I played two years of college tennis, and it’s a great sport. However, it is also by far the most frustrating sport I’ve ever played, particularly when played recreationally. A number of factors contribute to this. First, in order for an enjoyable tennis match to occur, both players have to be around the same skill level. If one player is better than the other, the lesser player is in for a long afternoon. There’s really nothing worse than being overmatched in tennis. When I played in college, my first year of actually playing tennis coincided with my college’s first year having a tennis team. As a result, the team was just kind of cobbled together from players from other teams. This resulted in me playing at a much higher spot than I should have been. Obviously, I got my proverbial hat handed to me on a nightly basis by these kids who had been playing tennis for a lot longer than I had. But the thing of it is, there’s very little one can do in that situation. It’s not like in basketball where you can go into a zone defense, take the air out of the ball, or try all kinds of different offenses in a case where your team is outmatched. They would just hit the ball a lot harder than me.
The second thing that kills me about tennis is the consistency factor. I’ll hit a great shot, say a nice forehand down the line. I’ll be feeling pretty good about myself. The very next play I’ll smash a ball twenty-five feet out of bounds with the exact same shot. Just vexing.