Eye Guards And One Wall Culture
It's 9:38 pm Saturday night and I get a text four sentences long from John Ellis. Right away, my gut said, "Oh, oh." John is usually pretty short written in his texts, so when I saw it was pretty long compared to what I'm used to from him, I had a feeling it was a "something".
It starts out, "Freddy, I was checking out (someone's facebook post) about playing One Wall there in New York. I noticed all four guys had no eye guards on...". Then I reply, "Yes. Zerega." John continues, "Those guys aren't playing right then, because they are definitely looking back after they serve. That's how one takes a shot to the eye."
Now, I was one of those players. Some of the other players were a group of guys from the Maryland / Virginia group that has been playing Outdoor both 3 Wall and One Wall and these were players who really are feeling the One Wall version of the game. They travelled to Zerega Indoor Sports in the Bronx, NY to get some authentic New York styled One Wall games, which is played just like handball and paddleball where there is absolutely no clearing/avoidable rule requiring players to make way for a striker. New York players have developed a play style that more consistently requires that you "face forward" to better maintain control of the front court. Eye guards have been something that rarely comes up into conversations in NY One Wall and even rarer still is seeing someone wear them while playing in New York City. Needless to say, none of us had them on.
John's text, continuing on about how one of the the players is a young dude still and how it was brought up directly to him in a previous Facebook post resulting in defensiveness in the response, points he doesn't know the player personally then continues, "But someone like you should tell him since you are a legend in One Wall."
This is where it got sticky for me. I literally sat for a few minutes to think about my response. "Yea." is what I typed. Then after thinking some more, I continued the thought, "I have to work out the mechanics a bit before I could credibly TELL someone... but a STRONG recommend." Then, "I'll send a text." John Ellis replies, "Good idea!! Good man you are Freddy! 😏🤙🏾"
Totally worked by John Ellis... about a minute later I reply, "I reached out. We'll see where it goes."
The visiting players were set to play again at Zerega the next day, Sunday. I wasn't planning on playing so what I did was text another NY player who I knew would be there. Asking him to nicely say that I recommend they wear eye guards. I then sent a rather long Facebook message that almost sounded like an apologetic request / recommendation to the player John singled out. So, on Sunday, I forwarded a screenshot of the message I sent to the player to the text thread John started Saturday night. I included what I received in response from the player, "Oh ok thanks I'll keep that in mind".
Sudsy Monchik, who was on the text thread responds. "Sounds like a big fat NO". My response, "Yea." I mentioned that might be a call to write something regarding this and Sudsy responds, "Eh. He's an adult. His choice. Responsibility. Accountability."
And I thought, "Right."
Culturally, I participate in a sport where this matter, even though it is a very serious one, has been an almost non-issue recreationally. John setting me in a spot of influence has me wondering whether I should start wearing eye guards. One thing I can say off the bat is that John is right about the chances indoor players are taking, transitioning to One Wall and not wearing eye protection... especially while they re-learn how to react to certain shots in One Wall.
Now I'm left with two thoughts on the matter. Because John has a real point. But, so does Sudsy.
I mean, if I'm recommending how someone should play, I have to live it first. No?
Or maybe I'll have to keep shut on the issue.