08. November 2004 · Comments Off on Deviant Sportuality · Categories: General, Military

Being that the military is almost entirely composed of competitive, healthy and extremely fit human beings, frequently stranded in locations singularly devoid of any amusements other than what they supply themselves, and that the standard military sense of humor (not to put too fine point upon it) tends towards the un-politically correct side of the spectrum, that sports events such as this take place should not come as a surprise. Why not a chariot race? The creativity of those who are inventive and extremely bored should never be underestimated. But whereas most anyone can come up with some sort of contest to relieve the tedium, leave it to the military to add that pinch of sneezing powder, that cream pie to the face (or better yet, down the front of the trousers), that touch of slapstick that will render the whole contest ridiculously enjoyable. With luck, the entire audience and most of the participants will be laying about laughing helplessly.

There have been races of cockroaches, of outhouses, gurneys and office chairs, with all the solemnity of the Olympics and probably the same level of good sportsmanship. In the 1980ies the JAG offices in Europe held a track meet for their lawyers and staff, and called it �The Ambulance Chase�, and in a major effort towards truth in advertising, had an ambulance slowly circling the track, just ahead of the front runners. Just before the start of operations in Gulf War 1, the combined American forces in Saudi Arabia staged, with great pomp and circumstance, a tremendously well-attended Army-Navy football game. All the football equipment and uniforms were imported in-theater, so everyone was well kitted out, when a team of women drawn from the Army and Air Force played a knock-down drag-out contest against a team of women from the Navy and Marines, while burly male cheerleaders in pleated skirts, and pom-poms screamed encouragement from the sides.

I was there personally, when a scratch team of broadcasters from EBS-Hellenikon— augmented with volunteers from the Public Affairs Office, the Commissary, and the head surgeon from the base hospital who pitched, dressed in scrubs and a long white Santa Claus beard and wig— took on the challenge thrown out by a team from the Army detachment, and fought it out on the dusty athletic field for the position of Worst Softball Team on Base. It started as a running joke on the morning show, and turned into a riotously funny game, with shortstops bring out folding patio lounge chairs, and taking their ease in the infield, and two of the unit wives and I selling large brown-paper bags with eye-holes cut in the front and the motto �OFFICIAL EBS FAN� neatly lettered below. The game had a serious underlying purpose, thought; raising money for a Greek teenager who played soccer for a local team which often played against base teams. He developed bone cancer, and had to have a leg amputated, so many of the American soccer players from the base had wanted to see him get a better grade of artificial leg than he would have otherwise had.

Of course, the EBS team won� er� lost, and took home the cherished Gold Cup, which the surgeon and pitcher had donated to the enterprise.
And yes, it was indeed a bedpan, painted gold. I have a picture of it, with the winning team, triumphantly arranged around.

(commenters are invited to add their own accounts of deviant military sports events. We understand entirely if you must be vague about identifiable details, especially if the statute of limitations hasn�t yet run out.)

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