In Kickball, the Commish Rules

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Local kickball leagues are cropping up all around the country. It's all good fun, but in any league, you're going to need someone to set things up, make the schedule, and handle any officiating disputes. Who are the sort of people who do this sort of thing? Commentator Laura Lorson knows.


Commentator Laura Lorson lives in Lawrence, Kansas, and she recently came across some sports equipment that gave her new insight into the man she married.


My husband and I bought a house in the country. Kelly and I are still in that grad school mind-set in which you never, ever pay for movers. You just call in every favor you have ever been owed, buy a bunch of beer, and tell everyone you know to show up to help you carry things. So in the process of this move, I was throwing stuff out left and right, unloved sweaters, strange wedding gifts, canned goods from 1985. I was rooting around in what we called the scary room, the room with all the slightly damaged Christmas decorations and lidless Tupperware and antifreeze. I discovered, much to my surprise, that our little family of two seemed to own an inordinate number of bouncy red balls, the kind you use in schoolyards to play foursquare and dodgeball and other psychically scarring kid games. `Honey,' I called, `why do we have eight foursquare balls?' `We don't. We have eight kickballs,' he said.

Now kickball is very big here in Lawrence. Some people started up a league a few years ago, and most of the downtown businesses seemed to field a team. It's all very good-natured and laid-back and fun except for this one group of guys who just had to go out and get customized Lycra outfits and work with specialized trainers. These are the kind of people who root for the snooty kids in "The Bad News Bears," but I digress.

`OK, why do we have eight kickballs?' My husband drew himself up, squared his shoulders, cleared his throat and solemnly intoned, `Because I am now the commissioner of kickball for the Kiowa Valley League.' I could not stop laughing. It kind of hurt his feelings. `It's a big job. It's important. I make up the schedule. I deliver the bases to the field. I engage in conflict mediation.' This cracked me up. `Conflict mediation in kickball?'

Apparently a couple of years ago, there was some significant dispute over what to do when the ball gets kicked into a tree and gets stuck. Kelly proposed that it should be a ground rules double, a la what happens at Wrigley Field when the ball gets stuck in the ivy. He moved on to instituting the infield fly rule and imposing a Title IX-compliant gender equity policy, hence he is now the commissioner of kickball.

I spent a week calling him the emperor of ice cream or the science of optics until I saw his determinedly fixed smile and figured out that his chuckles were getting more and more forced, so I've made a concerted effort to stop giggling when we get a call asking for the commissioner. I'm assuming that Mrs. Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Mrs. Bowie Kuhn and Mrs. Bud Selig also had an adjustment period. I'll have it completely under control by the time we get to the playoffs, I swear.

BLOCK: Laura Lorson is the local ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host in Lawrence, Kansas.


MICHELE NORRIS (Host): I'm Michele Norris.

BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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