Players feed their competitive streaks
The three-martini lunch has fallen out of favor and a leisurely stroll on the golf course just feels … lazy. So where do type A bizzers march off to when they’re jonesing for that competition fix after a long day of slaughtering the enemy in contract negotiations?
Anywhere from the grassy oasis of Santa Monica High School soccer fields to Staples Center. Weekly leagues, corporate teams and pickup games are breaking out all over town.
Competitions around town range from competitive yoga (in case you wanna kick someone’s asana) to hockey games featuring the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer, Kiefer Sutherland and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Just don’t talk shop — or you’ll be stripped of any cool-factor stars you’ve earned on your hip sports-guy lapel and demoted to the rank of wannabe.
Here are three fields with more than their share of showbiz players.
NAUTICA MALIBU TRIATHLON
Warriors past and present: William H. Macy, Jon Cryer, Tate Donovan, Felicity Huffman, Mark-Paul Gosselaar
The Entertainment Industry Challenge within the Malibu Triathlon brings together agencies, studios and production companies to compete as teams to raise money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
“It makes you think, ‘Fuck, not only do I have to impress my boss, but now I have to impress him in tights,’ ” says a Malibu Triathlon insider.
But thesp Cryer has a different take. “I think Hollywood is a draw for competitive people in general, but most of us were the guys who got picked last for the dodgeball team.
“I abhor exercise,” he admits, crediting his trainer with realizing “that I was just shallow and insecure enough to not want to be humiliated on national television. So he asked if I’d participate in a charity triathlon.
“… I was so disgraced by my performance, which was broadcast on cable to the entire country, that I vowed to do better. Ever since I’ve trained hard, run seven full triathlons and purchased many expensive bike parts. Not bad for a guy who got picked last for the dodgeball team.”
L.A. OLYMPIC SOCCER LEAGUE
The Warriors: Several teams including Hollywood United: Anthony LaPaglia, Steve Jones, Danny Cannon
“Life doesn’t make much sense, particularly in Hollywood, but sports make sense. There are referees, the rules are clearly defined — and it’s fun,” says Cannon, an exec producer on the “CSI” franchise.
“L.A. is so spread out. It’s really important to have a place you can go to meet your friends and compete,” he adds.
CAA agent Marc Von Arx, who plays league soccer as well, says of his attraction to competitive sports, “I hate anything that doesn’t involve a score. I like to win.”
Even the interns in the CAA training program play in a competitive softball soccer league. But Von Arx says there’s no company pressure to join a league; it’s just the nature of the type A personality.
“When I’m on the field I can’t think about work, ‘the deal,’ anything,” he admits. “I have to be completely focused. It’s almost like meditation that actually ends up being very restful.”
NBA ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE
The Warriors: Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle, Ashton Kutcher, McG, Justin Timberlake, Mario Lopez, Ice Cube, Damien Wayans, Casey Wasserman, Broderick Johnson
Don’t even think about buying a ticket to these games. In true Hollywood tradition, it’s guest list only.
The NBAE evolved out of pickup basketball around town like the ones started by Ron Howard and George Clooney. The players wear authentic NBA uniforms; the league champions even get rings.
“Sports is the ultimate in reality TV. You can’t predict what’s going to happen next, and you can’t write the ending” says producer-director Scott Messick (“Pros vs. Joes,” “Survivor”), who plays in the NBAE. “That’s why the Olympics was forever the best drama on television.
“Hollywood and competitive sports are an identical experience. You have the best competing for awards and peer recognition … but there’s also a parallel in that those of us who write, direct, act and produce get an incredible amount of joy out of what we do. … It’s the same in sports.”