A fitness pledge for the unathletic


A kickball game, organized by NAKID Social Sports, on the National Mall. The league attracts particpants from around the regionl to play kickball, volleyball, dodgeball and flag football. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

That New Year’s pledge to shed a few extra pounds and kick up the exercise regimen might be best followed by a cold, frothy beer — at least that’s the ethos of NAKID Social Sports.

One of Washington’s many adult recreation leagues, NAKID (which stands for No, Adult Kickball Isn’t Dumb) is a fitness haven for the decidedly unathletic.

“The league started to really focus on the social aspects of sports, and to focus on the fact that we’re a bunch of adults playing a children’s game, so things shouldn’t be taken too seriously,” said Erin Reilly, executive vice president for events.

There’s a decent business to be made of children’s games it seems. Last year, the league attracted 10,000 participants from around the region to play kickball, volleyball, dodgeball and, most recently, flag football.

But the big draw for many of those who take part is the post-game trek to a nearby bar. Reilly said the league regularly hosts professional game nights, movie screenings and parties — all of which drive traffic to other neighborhood businesses.

Aaron Getz gets a kick off during a kickball game on the grounds of the Washington Monument. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Tucked in the shadow of the Capitol, My Brother’s Place used to close its doors on Sundays. It’s not a busy day for the nearby government employees that have kept its business humming for 31 years .

But the NAKID began hosting outdoor sports on the mall, and sending players to belly up to the bar. Now, when the league is in season, Sundays draw a rambunctious crowd sporting a rainbow of league T-shirts.

“For us it’s been very good, especially in the summer months,” said co-owner and events coordinator Martin Scahill. “Because we’re only located one block from the mall, it gives them a place to come that’s easy walking distance to get affordable drinks and food.”

Reilly said the league negotiates discounts for its members and requires that the bars serve Bud Light, one of the league’s primary sponsors. NAKID also has partnerships with D.C. United, the Wizards and the Capitals for discounted game nights.

For the businesses, the arrangement brings new customers.

“It’s a very transient area,” Scahill said. “Lots of young professionals are moving in and out of the area. It gives them an opportunity to interact and see what’s going on.”

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.

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