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A squishy predicament

16 April 2014 By Justin Thau, Columnist No Comments

I’m really riled up this time. In this space — my miniscule corner of the infinite Internet domain — you’ve seen me get worked up over gender identification and bullying, college athlete exploitation, and Duke University. This time, though, the issue is dire.

Here at our beloved Towson University, intramural softball is now using squishy softballs as opposed to regulation softballs. Let’s just say the struggle is real.

The first games with the squishy softballs were played last week. The ball was coming off of the bat as if we were using ladles as bats and meatballs as, well, balls.

Soon enough, teams were playing a hybrid of lacrosse and cricket — and obviously nobody wants to play those sports, let alone cares about them. People come to play softball because they want to play softball.
End of story.

An important key to this utterly devastating social justice issue is that everyone that plays intramural sports here at Towson has to sign a waiver before every sport they play.

To me, this seems to completely rid the University of liability if someone were to get injured using real softballs.

If anything, instituting fake softballs has made the University liable of fraud – and I imagine dozens of intramural softballers are willing to stand with me and sue the University on such a count, provided that
the court supplies us with a lawyer (because, you know, we’re poor college students and even if we have a pre-law student among us there’s no way he or she is ready to sue a university, unless he or she is
ready, in which case WE are ready to RUMBLE).

At any rate, I feel as though me simply ranting does not give this travesty its due justice. I mean, who am I to call out the University? I’m no expert.

That’s why I called up my good friends with whom I talk all the time – Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser – to get their take.

They were kind enough to do an entire “Pardon the Interruption” segment on this hot button issue. I hope you find it as invigorating as I did.

TK: It’s mail time, people — which also means it’s time for Wilbon to wake up from his dream about Derrick Rose coming back for the playoffs and leading the Bulls to an unlikely title!

MW: Low-blow, Tony. You know this is two years in a row now.

TK: Two?! I thought we had eclipsed the 1-0-0 mark on crushing your dreams. Anyways, let’s get to the first email (Mail Time!): “Towson University has stopped using regulation softballs for their intramural
games, opting for a squishy ball that poses less of a threat to player safety. Your thoughts?”

MW: Yeah, when I heard about this today the only thought that came to mind was, “SOFT. S-O-F-T. SOFT.” Are you kidding me right now?! What’s next, they’re gonna start using Fischer Price bats and
singing Kumbaya after every half-inning?! This is flat-out stupid.

TK: Whew, all of the sudden Wilbon’s breathing fire!

MW: I’m mad Tony. No, I’m enraged. This is an idea along the same wimpy lines as giving trophies to every kid that even attempts to participate in a sport. These college kids are adults and should be treated
as such!

TK: While I tend to agree with you on these kinds of issues, I’m gonna throw a number your way, OK? *puts on glasses, looks down at legal pad* There are approximately five deaths every year in which a
slow-pitch softball pitcher is hit by a line-drive. Five. So, there’s certainly precedent for trying to protect these students from contributing to that number.

MW: Five?! I bet Tow-zon or Tow-son, or whatever university we’re talkin’ about right now, could save 20 times that number of lives every year by better educating students about the dangers of binge drinking and drunk driving, wouldn’t you say Ton’?

TK: Look – it sounds like they haven’t had problems with injuries in the past, and students are required to sign waivers beforehand. You’re right, the players are young adults and should be treated as such.
There’s no reason for them to sign waivers only to have to swing at meatballs. Plus, they probably need to run after real softballs to start chipping away at that Freshmen 15.

MW: Did you ever lose that Freshman 15, Ton’? (DING goes the bell)

TK: Never had to. Though, I did choose to ignore the Old Geezer 30 — but that’s neither here nor there.

You heard it straight from the experts on this sort of thing: We need to stand up for what’s right — using real softballs instead of these impotent spheres of over-protective, self-delusional nonsense.

Disclaimer: That conversation never actually happened.

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