Austin American Statesman October 2006

Austin American Statesman
Teaming with singles at sports leagues
By Andrea Lorenz

Thursday, October 26, 2006

There I was at Cain and Abel’s, surrounded by sweaty people while women in short shorts spelled words with their back ends.

The sweat was from dodgeball games played earlier in the evening and the “butt charades” was a bar game among many in what I discovered to be the slightly seedy but all-in-good-fun singles scene of social sports leagues in Austin.

These groups don’t advertise specifically for singles. Mention that word and the owners will quickly correct you, and players say no way would they join the “Austin Singles Sports Club.” But the Austin Sports and Social Club? Without even planning to, you hit the singles jackpot.

Couples are welcome, but most members are single, if only because single people have more time to fill.

Clare, 23, joined the league for a “completely innocent” reason – “That would be weird,” she says if it were a specified singles group – to avoid the “work, home, work, home, occasional weekend night out” routine after college.

On a sports team, she’s met new friends and gets out during the week. The owner of the sports club, Marc Tucci, chose Austin because of people like Clare. After scoping out cities in warm climes, he saw Austin to be the most fit and least likely to watch TV.

(I didn’t tell him I missed a kickball game when “Lost” premiered this month.)

Tucci was surprised at how many individuals in Austin sign up to be placed on teams – about 40 percent of total membership – compared with only about 5 percent in a similar Baltimore company. In other words, you won’t feel like an oddball if you join alone.

It’s not just Tucci’s club: Other groups in Austin report a large singles membership, but they don’t advertise it. Hill Country Outdoors and Austin in Action skew a bit older – average age is 35 – with not as much emphasis on the bar scene and more events geared toward families. (Single parents, take note.)

And if you think you can compete with the best of ’em to earn the title of “biggest flirt,” “biggest lush” or “best makeout,” you might want to check out the World Adult Kickball Association. Each week the group puts out an e-newsletter with game recaps and bar recaps: “There seems to be a strange magnetism between Hoodies and RBL Rebels,” one recent edition read.

Austin Sports and Social Club is more mellow (rump charades aside). Clare’s softball teammate Sam, 36, said that when you’re single, meeting someone is always in the back of your mind. But a singles group?

“It seems kind of weird because you’re there for the same reason,” Sam says. “If you’re going up to talk to someone, it’s like, I’m single, you’re single, we’re both here to meet people, and we’re talking, so I must be interested.”

At a singles event, you know everyone’s single and looking.

What you’ll never know is whether the one you find likes you because you’re you or because you fit a demographic.

Singles at these places are tired of being single, and they’ve been through enough wrong ones to know the recipe of likes, dislikes and apparel sizes that will produce their perfect mate. If you fit (or pretend to fit), you’re in.

Will you find your one and only at a social group or sports team? Maybe. But if you’re joining just for dates, these places don’t want you.

You’ll just “single-ize” the atmosphere.

We already spend too much time of our single lives trying to not be single. Let’s just play ball.

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