As many of you know, the Xavier Musketeers open each season with a sort of physical benchmarks test. Players run the mile, bench 185 pounds, vertical jump, and standing reach, all to have a baseline level for their performance. Last year Banners favorite Dante Jackson ran the mile in 5:25 and then had a teammate take a picture of him sprawled on the floor, physically spent.
This year, however, the stakes were far higher. This year, for the first time, the Musketeers were challenging the steely eyed, tautly muscled, prone to exaggeration staff assembled here at Banners on the Parkway. (Full disclosure: the players and coaching staff were not, technically, even mildly aware of this). With athletes queuing up across Ohio, it was on.
The first event of the day was the mile run. Dee Davis paced the Musketeers with a blazing 5:15. Joel, the Kenny Frease of our squad, tore off a mile in well under seven minutes. Good, but not what we needed. Not daunted by the pressure (mostly because I didn't witness it or even know about it until much later) I responded with a 5:32 of my own. Xavier University staff stood amazed at my prowess and most of the team failed to reach the marker set down. The bloggers, boosted by their half marathon training regimen, were off to an early lead.
Next came the bench press. As the Musketeers pounded out the reps, stacked weights, and generally did things strong people do, Joel and I discussed strategy. First, we tried to get push-ups to count. This was dismissed because I don't weigh enough and Joel really hates upper body work. Secondly, we tried for a special dispensation allowing us to push less weight so as not to damage our gifted typing hands. This too was, unfairly, shot down. After much further discussion, we decided the best strategy was probably to forfeit and pretend we could have done it. Andre Walker knocked out 22 reps for the Musketeers while Joel and I (didn't) watch from the sidelines.
The third event was the vertical jump. It was immediately clear that we were working from a disadvantage here as neither Joel nor I can, you know, jump. My original mark of 54" was dismissed when it was discovered I had launched from a folding chair. Joel leapt and tucked his legs for a very respectable 39" before he was informed that the actual measurement was taken at your hand, not your feet. I eventually managed a 27" mark that was summarily humiliated by Mark Lyons 36" and pretty much everyone else. With one event to go and a 2-1 deficit, things were not looking good for the bloggers.
As the sides lined up for the finals the Musketeers, calmed by their complete lack of knowledge of any competition, seemed impervious to stress. I knew I was out of any reach competition (I'm only 5'9" on a good day), so it all fell on Joel. As the Xavier players lined up, Joel coolly and calmly rose from his desk and began measuring his arm with a piece of standard printer paper. As hush fell over the crowd as he willed each piece to stretch a little less and his arm to stretch a little more. (It's also possible there was a hush because a grown man measuring his arm with paper isn't terribly common in the modern office). Undaunted by the stares, Joel measured, and we lost. Joel, extending to the last, managed 8'3" of vertical reach. Jeff Robinson towered over everyone at 9'1" and several other Musketeers filled the resulting 10 inch gap.
So, the first ever ballers vs. bloggers event was a 3-1 win for the actual athletes. We'd like to thank our sponsors (no one) and all those who came out to support us (also no one, though my wife did hold a yardstick). Mostly we'd like to thank Coach Mack for the tweet that inspired the idea and our employers, for at least pretending not to notice us goofing around all afternoon.