Office Sports Etiquette

Participating in sports activities with your coworkers doesn't always result in team building. In fact, sometimes it can lead to team division. So before you lace up your cleats and grab the ol’ pigskin, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for proper office sports etiquette.

Richie Frieman,
September 9, 2013
Episode #262

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Tip #2: You Don’t Have to Play to Be a Team Player

Office sports leagues are meant to build camaraderie and encourage employees to bond outside the job. However, many people feel that if they don’t agree to participating in the office sporting event, they will be labeled a poor sport (pun intended). This isn't true. If you don't want to stake your professional reputation on how far you can throw a ball, you can still be a team player without being the star of the team.

If promotions were handed out based on success on the basketball court, I’d still be an intern cleaning out coffee grounds from the kitchen sink.

Simply showing up to a game to cheer on your team is a simple and fun way to take part; so is offering to bring water or snacks for the players. As well, attend the happy hour or dinner after the game to catch up and review the game's highlights. And if you really want to be a non-playing member of the team, take it one step further and offer to be the event organizer. This way, you can be a team player even if you think a “sacrifice fly” is when a moth accidentally nosedives into a candle.

Tip #3: There's a Sport for Everyone

Many people don’t like to participate in workplace-sponsored sports because they feel they can’t excel as well as their colleagues in the “Big Three" office sports: softball, (flag) football, or basketball.  And I totally understand. I like to think that I can hang with softball and football, but basketball is hardly my forte. In fact, if promotions were handed out based on success on the basketball court, I’d still be an intern cleaning out coffee grounds from the kitchen sink. I take that back. I would be that intern’s intern. Luckily, I’ve yet to run into this problem. But if you can’t succeed at any of the available sports at your job, there is nothing wrong with launching another suitable sport at your job.

Many companies have expanded their sports programs to activities outside the Big Three to include games like kickball, dodgeball, broom ball, bowling, golf, and tennis. This is done to make games more accessible for more employees and not just for the 6’5” accountant who can dunk over everyone.  When you allow alternative office sports it makes everyone feel more involved and not just from the sidelines.  

So if you find yourself not digging the current list of sporting activities in your office, bring up alternatives to management and see what they think. Chances are you are not the only one who is worried about striking out in front of the entire company, but who can roll a mean strike at the bowling alley.

I delve a lot more into the challenges and opportunities of office sports in my new book Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career. It's available for pre-order now as a paperback, ebook, and even as an audiobook, read by me!

Do you have a great story about the office sports at your job? Post all the details in the comment section. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Office sports image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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