August 23, 2000

Teamwork


How to fit 32 "ladies" into eight bowling teams:

Take 32 pieces of paper; write one name and average on each. Colour-coding into four sections, by average, is good.
Arrange the top eight in a row on the table. Those are the "anchors" and are unmovable.
Arrange the next eight, one for each anchor but in reverse order of average - ie the highest goes with the lowest anchor.
Do the same with the other two rows of papers. Adjust as necessary so that the team average total is as even as possible.

This is how normal leagues do it.

We look at the results and laugh. And spend two to three hours rearranging the papers.

First of all, there's the One in every league.. the One nobody wants to bowl with. It's bad enough you have to bowl against her team one week out of seven. Every year we have to find three victims who can tolerate her, week after week. This time, two of the three are on the self-sacrificing executive. (Not me - I'm not that good.) Her team, once formed, becomes untouchable.

She's a woman in her late 60's who looks to be in her late 80's, with a medical history to match. She smokes constantly, has heart disease and has survived breast cancer. Even so, it's impossible to feel sorry for her, much less like her. She complains constantly about her team, her teammates, her bowling (even when she's doing well) and her husband, who is constantly at her side and is a living saint if ever there was one. She is rumored to have told a young teammate, "Go home and have babies, dear, that's all you're good for." She is known to have told a recent widow, who wasn't feeling well, to "go home and get laid."

Luckily, the other thirty women are a delight. They range in age from early 40's to early 80's. There are minor personality conficts, though, so those need to be addressed, as do other issues.

Bowlers who had the worst teams the previous year are given extra consideration. By "worst" I don't mean losing teams, I mean teams with a high rate of absenteeism. We know which ladies are good at showing up consistently, and which aren't, and we try to spread around the ones that aren't to different teams. Likewise, the chronic late-comers, the ones who need to be reminded   every.   single.   time.   it is their turn; and the ones who take February off to go to Florida.

If a bowler brings someone into the league, we try to keep them together for the first year. This entails more shuffling around.

We try to avoid repeating teammates, but make exceptions upon request. Three years in a row we refuse.

We make allowances for people who travel together from other suburbs, since if they finish together they don't have to wait for each other before leaving.

The league is mostly English-speaking but we usually have at least two or three Francophones whose English isn't fluent. We try to make sure they have at least one and preferably two teammates who speak French well.

We try to keep apart people who just don't like each other - fortunately, those instances are the exception rather than the rule.

Still, the combined team averages need to be somewhat balanced. There is a handicap added to the score but it's calculated at 80%. If one team turns out to be significantly too weak or too strong, we never hear the end of it.

I remember one year when we went through the entire exercise, thought we had it nailed, only to be told on the first day by one regular bowler that her team was "no good". Why? Because nobody knew how to keep score. This was before computerized scoring was installed at our lanes. I seem to remember throwing a minor fit and telling them the other team would keep score or I would do it myself, but we were NOT changing the teams. I heard nothing more about it.

Why do we put ourselves through this? Although the league is sanctioned by the WIBC, it's primarily a social league. We want them to be happy. For some of these ladies it's the only time all week that they relax and blow off steam. It's as satisfying to watch older people smiling and laughing and having fun as it is to watch children doing it. It's more than a bowling league - it's group therapy.

This afternoon the four of us formed the teams for this year. I think it's pretty good - but there are bound to be complaints. No matter how much they gripe and moan, though, they consistently reelect us every year. Guess nobody else wants this job.

Awhile ago I posted a few more of my aunt's stories on her memoirs page. There are five entries up there now and I need to stop procrastinating and get the rest of them done.

For those of you who read Sasha's journal (and those who don't, you should) she has been forced, due to circumstances beyond her control, to move her site. It may not be totally functional yet but it's here. Good luck in your new home, Sasha!

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