Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Standing Athwart the Center Wicket, Yelling Stop!

I'm troubled by this article, which describes the Xtreme-ization of the noble and wonderful game of croquet.
For the last two years, Jim Grupe has tried to stir up local interest in his favorite extreme sport. It’s not something you’ll come across while watching skateboarders or cyclists fall from the sky during the ongoing X Games.

Grupe’s game of choice, actually, is among the last you’d think would be suited to the sort of extremism that’s taking over so many established pastimes.

It’s croquet.

“I was looking for something new,” he says, “and this is what I found.”

Grupe, 60, is the founder and force behind the DC/MD/VA Extreme Croquet Club. Once a month, he invites folks to his home in Brookeville, Md., to take a whack at the new version of the old lawn game. His 17-acre spread has all the fixin’s that separate an extreme croquet course from that of its genteel predecessor, including a pond, a stream, lots of trees, lots of mud, and various livestock.

In my opinion, physical exertion (like, say, walking around on 17 acres) is anathema to the very spirit of croquet. No croquet field should be so big that you are ever, at any time, more than ten steps away from the makeshift bar or the cooler filled with beer. The beauty of croquet is that you can play it, and play it well, without spilling your drink. If polo is the sport of kings, croquet is the sport of kings' lazy, good-for-nothing brothers. Like vegetarian barbecue and smooth jazz, extreme croquet completely misses the point.

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