We're diving back into the Bill Simmons archive, a previously undiscovered treasure trove of Sports Guy material from AOL Digital Cities. Today's is a special one, as it takes us more than two decades back in the Simmons oeuvre. It was originally written in the fall of 1989, when Simmons was a sophomore at Holy Cross. It never ran in The Crusader, the student paper, but Bill hung on to it: and republished it on AOL in the summer of 2000. It's called "DORM SPORTS: Things you can do in college to pass the time."
You see, all freshman guys go through that stage when they're dealing with three new realities: 1) You're thinking of any way possible to procrastinate and avoid doing anything worthwhile; 2) you're suddenly eating, breathing, crapping, puking, sleeping, and studying in the same small quarters with 20-25 other horny, restless guys; and 3) those other 20-25 guys are also thinking of any way possible to procrastinate and avoid doing anything worthwhile.
This is where a newly-fangled dorm sport suddenly appears. Think about it. You have a bunch of bored freshman... usually without a date... tired of discussing what they would do if they ever HAD a date... everyone's competitive, restless and horny... and dorm damage usually ensues.
The column is a list of typical dorm sports, but we're fascinated by the earliest examples of Simmons's pop culture references:
• A batter "drops the wiffleball bat like Michael Corleone dropped the gun after he shot McCloskey and Solazzo in 'The Godfather.'"
• Hacksack is "positively moronic, yet strangely addictive... much like 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (before Bo and Luke left in the contract dispute and their loser cousins Coy and Vance took over the show)."
• "If you use a real golf ball" in dorm golf, "invariably someone will take a full swing and send a screeching line drive through a window, causing everyone to scatter faster than the crowd at 'The Who' concert in Cincinnati."
• Dorm football is like "the championship game in 'Rollerball' with James Caan — there's only three guys left by the end of the game, and dead players are strewn about all over the place. The only thing that's missing are the burning motorcycles and a crowd chanting 'Jonathan! Jonathan!'"
• Jai Alai is "the Mount Everest, the Larry Bird, the Mona Lisa, hell, THE KATHY IRELAND of hall sports."
Take the most sick, demented thing you've ever done and multiply that by twenty. That's Jai Alai.
Basically, the game involves any number of hallmates — usually drunken, obstinate, and somewhat brazen — standing at the midpoint of a hallway and whipping a golf ball against one of the far walls.
There's no point. There's no way to win. You simply huck the golf ball as hard as possible against the far wall and then dive out of the way as the ball ricochets back at you at speeds of over 400 miles-per-hour, like a pinball. Jai Alai is the only hall sport where you might actually get to see your life flash before your eyes as a golf ball closes in on that spot right between the middle of your eyes.
Dorm damage? Incalculable. Injuries? Probable. Fatalities? Possible.
That's Jai Alai. When you finish the game — usually because the ball has shattered a window or been seized by an extremely pissed-off R.A. — you look around, breathe a sigh of relief, thank God, hug one another and say, "We're all winners on this hall tonight! Everyone's a winner!" It's male bonding at its finest.
And that's what college is all about, right?