Alternate title – Plush cotton towels are nice…paper towels can accomplish the same thing 

A Broadway production compared to the local elementary school’s annual play-

Woodstock (the original!) compared to the community band’s recital at the community band shell-

The Super Bowl compared to the Saturday morning coed flag football league championship game-

Olympic Games 100-yd dash finals compared to racing on the sidewalk for the neighborhood crown.

The comparison?  All are stages, literally or figuratively, though with obvious difference.  But, maybe the  difference isn’t so obvious, because when it comes right down to it, the meaning to the participants of what occurs upon a stage is the same regardless of the stage itself. 

Considering physical activity it’s not the stage upon which you are participating – it’s that you ARE ON a stage participating!

Flashback – while living on the East Coast as a full-time (dirt poor) grad student I was enticed to play on a coed softball team by the offer to get paid for hitting home runs.  The backstory is this team was the perennial league bottom feeder never coming close to being competitive, and the company BigWig president/ceo for whom the team represented was tired of losing.  Coed softball being what it is, female players can be at a premium, especially when league rules mandate that all players work for the company, save allowing 2 ‘outside’ females to compensate for the pool  shortage compared to male players.  Net/net, coed teams can drastically improve their quality by adding skilled females.           

I love softball, have been very fortunate to play it at a high level, including very good coed teams for which, a female who ‘can play’ quickly becomes known.  So it was through the ‘what girls can we get to play’ network that the Mr. BigWig came across me and another skilled female.  We both gladly accepted his offer, especially after discovering that the ‘field’ was an elementary school asphalt playground with a VERY short 100’ right field fence.  If a man hit it over it was an out, but if a female hit it over – HOME RUN!  Truth be told, on pretty much ANY other field in the world, hitting a 100’ pop up would result in a big fat fly ball out.  But for a relatively skilled, very poor female this was a dream come true.  A home run was probable each at-bat.  To add to the story, my school was across town from the field so between the distance and my class schedule it was a challenge to get to the games on time.  Mr. BigWig problem solved by sending his driver to pick me up.  I was stunned every time I stepped into that Rolls Royce limo!   

And so it was that the season began.  This was sloppy softball at its worst and made family reunion softball look like the world series.  Rag tag players sharing gloves and ground rules that only an asphalt ‘field’ could claim – hitting into a plantar was a ground rule double, but hitting into a playground bench was a live ball, go figure!  At first I scoffed at the sloppiness and for awhile didn’t even change from my school clothes to play.  Thankfully, this didn’t diminish my ability to hit sloppy fly balls that cleared the fence that led to the generous payouts that stocked my cupboard.  (And, really thankfully, only once did a bank teller look at me strangely when I handed over several large crisp bills for deposit – I learned to deposit on different days so to not risk getting the same teller twice…).

Buuuuuuut, over time something changed.  Our scrappy team kept winning and playing on it was…a ton of fun! pay-outs and limo aside!  The players were nice, Mr. BigWig was awesome, and did I mention, we kept winning, to the point we finished undefeated so were the CLEAR favorites to win the league championship.  But, our softball high crumbled upon realizing that the playoffs games were to be held…on a real field with real dimensions.  Sure, over the fence for a woman was still a home run, except the fences were the standard 300’ – BIG difference between hitting a 300’ shot using a low-compressed ball and hitting a 100’ pop-up!  I remember thinking it was very cute when Mr. BigWig assured me the home run deal stood throughout the playoffs…for he really had no idea the field difference was the proverbial night and day.     

The first game playing on the real field was rough – no perfect grounders that the asphalt guaranteed – but, wouldn’t you know, our plucky team won, then won again, then won for the 3rd and 4th times to WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!  I really thought Mr. BigWig was going to have a heart attack.  He was so excited!  As were all of us!  Our celebration was one for the ages.  Mr. BigWig went all out to sponsor the best in food and drink, but the center of attention was the 12” plastic league championship trophy.  It really meant the world to all of us even though we never DIDN’T play ragtag softball, and always needed to loan gloves back and forth between the teams, and sometimes shoes.        

I will forever cherish playing for that team.  The pay-outs and limo rides aside, it was extremely gratifying because the experience evolved to mean so much to all of us.  Mr. BigWig retired the next year at the ripe old age of 40-something having made enough money for several lifetimes but more important to him, having WON the league championship.  He was at peace…

A stage is a stage is a stage, no matter the speakers, lights, sound system, or quality of the performance. Broadway = school play = playground softball = Yankee Stadium.  Make it a priority to play upon as many stages as you can.  Join the local bowling league, enter the neighborhood park’s tennis tournament, run in the holiday jingle-jangle run, and then cherish the life-enrichment each brings.  Fun, challenge, camaraderie…priceless.  And, always remember, THAT you accomplished something on a stage, anything, is what counts, no matter the stage.  Your league championship t-shirt deserves as much reverence as an Olympic medal.  Besides, wearing a medal while you go about your day can be overrated – it gets in the way of pretty much everything…

Now about that stage – with your Iron Footprint growing like it is you deserve better lighting!

For now, we would love to hear your own stage stories.  Feel free to email us at info@ironcougarfitness.com to share.