Windoor sports: Table and board edition

 

February 7, 2018



In a small western town (or just small towns in general probably), the bulk of general socialization goes on in establishments that serve alcohol.

In the summer our towns boast activities and events aplenty—and folks can get out and get together with friends at leisure.

But in winter there are only so many things one can do to get out of the house and socialize.

That’s where winter indoor (or Windoor) sports come in.

Racking up friends

Saratoga has a pool league, a dart league and a cribbage league (and probably some others I’m not thinking of).

It’s a way to see friends and meet new people—and I have met quite a few people over a pool table or in front of a dart board over the years.

We even had a church team that played in the pool league one year and they were nice folks who I might not have otherwise met (while I have been in church before, I am constantly concerned either I or the church is going to spontaneously combust).


I have played with state and local politicians, mechanics, carpenters, teachers and pretty much any type of person you can name—and I have always considered that a good thing.

In league

I cannot remember how many times I have trudged through snow and ice to get to the bar I am playing in that night, but if I happen to be crossing the street with friends or teammates, the comment is often made, “This is what we do in the winter.”

Dart league is Tuesday night (it used to be Thursdays) and pool league is Wednesday so these things are a good excuse to get out of the house midweek in the colder months.

Finding (or losing)

balance

Either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your particular bent) these activities take place in saloons, taverns or just plain bars.

Some individuals show up for these things and abstain from drinking altogether, some might just have a “toddy.” Others imbibe a bit more than that (insert smiley face emoji here).

There is an oft-tossed-around theory that there is a “perfect balance” of alcohol to game play.

Some people claim they are at the top of their game after three beers (your mileage may vary). The thought here is: Those drinks are enough to get over any nervousness they might have going into a game and allow them to be “looser.”

From *ahem* personal experience, there is a good deal of truth to this.

Our neck of the woods feature some players who are borderline professionals. When you know you are going up against one of these people, there can be a smidgen of anxiety.

You want to play your best, but if you overthink the thing you are doomed.

That’s where the “perfect balance” comes in.

It is kind of a bell curve though.

If you can get to the top of the curve and maintain that balance, good for you.

If you do have that extra one or two drinks, the drop-off in your quality of play can be precipitous.

As soon as you make that point though, someone will be quick to point out that this person or that person actually plays better (the correct term is “lights out”) when they have to hold up the pool table during play.

These characters can often be identified by hearing them ask the questions: “What am I?” (in reference to what balls they have in pool), or “Is it my turn already?”

Polishing your game

Whether or not you drink playing on league night, you will get better at the sport you have chosen.

Darts take repetition and muscle memory. If you play on a regular basis—especially against the level of competition we have around here—you will become more proficient.

Playing pool also requires basic coordination and getting your stroke correct takes practice. But if you play here (once again, against some really good players), you will find that learning strategy carries more weight.

As I have told people on numerous occasions, “If you play league, you will be much better by the end of the season.”

This is true the greatest percentage of the time.

I have seen people that, in their first year playing, everyone beat. That next year that same person was beating a lot of people and had become a tough out.

Taking it on the road

The good thing about getting used to a pool table or dart board is that almost every bar has one or the other.

You now have something to do immediately if you are on your own.

Chuck some quarters in a pool table and you can play by yourself. Heck, I even practice right versus left handed sometimes.

The funny thing is, my left handed shot disproportionally wins—and I normally shoot right.

I have asked complete strangers if they are up for a game. You might not make a lifelong friend like that, but you can have a good time talking to someone new while enjoying a game.

The same with darts.

After the awards dinner was over at the Wyoming Press Association convention in Casper, I found two guys playing darts in the hotel bar and asked if I could get in when they were finished.

When their game was over, they let me know and I played the winner. It was a close game—and my competitor won—but I think they got a kick out of seeing a guy in a full dress kilt and jacket throwing darts.

Endgame

It was not my particular intent to encourage folks to step into any local watering hole. I am also not trying to advise you to drink.

These games that I enjoy are played in bars. There is no way around it.

You local coffee shop is probably not real likely to put a pool table in.

A dartboard might look out of place in a bank (but you could get change easily and it might give “boardroom” a new definition).

If you are interested in playing Windoor sports, stop by on a league night and ask anyone playing who to talk to about getting in a league. You might just enjoy yourself.

 

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