An Arlington judge gave a break yesterday to a bunch of middle-aged professionals who call themselves the Paunch League. As a result, the league will once again play full-court basketball.
Pending resolution of a lawsuit the players have filed, Circuit Judge Thomas R. Monroe ordered the board of directors of the Fairlington Glen condominium village to replace a backboard that it took down in February. He also admonished the condominium's residents to work out their problems like "good neighbors."
The Fairlington Glen basketball court is the home court of the Paunch League, a group of men in their thirties and forties who gather each weekend for spirited, if not speedy, basketball.
Some neighbors complained of noise and asked the board to remove one of the two backboards.
The five-member board voted unanimously to do so. But the league continued to play half-court ball, and last week sued for the return of the second backboard. They argued that the directors cannot make decisions about "common elements" such as the basketball court without the approval of 95 percent of Fairlington Glen owners.
Greg Murphy, the players' attorney and a league regular, told the judge yesterday that the condo board caused irreparable harm to the physical and mental health of the players by voting to remove the backboard.
The board's three attorneys argued that their clients were within their rights to remove the backboard and that the players could not show irreparable harm.
After the ruling, Murphy said that the league members, most of whom own condos or live in Fairlington Glen, would like to settle the case "amicably" without going to trial.
"We are more than willing to work this whole thing out," he said. "These people are all friends. There's no animosity. We'll all be good neighbors."
Alan G. Bow, who is head of the owners' buildings and grounds committee, said the condominium board had met with league players "on any number of occasions" in an attempt to resolve complaints from residents.
"This is a very emotional situation in the village," Bow said. "They said in court today that the problems with the basketball courts went back five years, but my own wife was president of the owners' association over five years ago, and there were problems with the courts even then."
"It isn't a question of the noise," Bow said. "This is a group of people who are very family-oriented . . . . From what I hear, there is a lot of profanity on the courts."
"These courts are designed for family use," Bow said. "I never realized there was a league coming in here to play on them."
Dr. Richard Cambareri, an oncologist and league member, joked that he is delighted that he can "go back to prescribing aspirin instead of antidepressants."