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WHY NOT TRY YOUR OWN HAND AT SPRING AND SUMMER SPORTS?

Elaine Richardson

Spring pushes us into primetime for spectator sports, but it’s also the ideal time to get off the couch and try your hand at everything from basketball to volleyball to basketball. Two local organizations — the Chicago Sport and Social Club and Sports Monster/Social Monster offer numerous ways to meet people and return to your college intramural sports days.

After a bumpy winter the Chicago Sport and Social Club, which closed briefly after its parent company, StreetZebra.com, lost it in the dot-com bust out, is back up and running with new owners. “The closure had nothing to do with the club itself,” says new President Jason Erkes, whose group, nightclub guru Marc Bortz’ Bortz Entertainment Group, also bought sport and social clubs in Detroit and San Francisco. “It’s a solid business and a good business.”

With a regular participation of more than 65,000 per year, Erkes says the Chicago club remains the largest sport and social club in the country. Through partnerships with the Chicago Park District, they offer beach and indoor volleyball, soccer, flag football, basketball and floor hockey at numerous city locations, as well as dance lessons at local bars and clubs. In addition, you can join as an individual or a group and you can play in competitive or purely recreational leagues. “It’s easy,” Erkes says. “It’s the best way in the city to meet people. Where else can you go where there are 60,000 young people looking to interact and have fun?”

“People need to know that we’re open and operating,” Erkes says, noting that they are offering rebates for those who paid for winter leagues and didn’t get to play because of closure and that they’re focused on rebuilding the club. “We want to take the sports leagues and expand. We’re planning on going south and west and diversifying a bit. We’re the same as we’ve ever been, but better.”

Sports Monster, a member of the United States Sports Association with clubs in Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, is headquartered in Chicago and has operated a similar set of leagues here since 1994. Billing itself as the city’s “largest adult recreational sports league and activities club,” Sports Monster and its sister organization, Social Monster, offer individual and group signups, as well as social events and other ways for people in their 20s and early 30s to meet each other. (You must be 21 to participate.)

Sports offered include basketball, floor hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball and water polo, and Sports Monster does offer both competitive and recreational leagues, as well as one-day tournaments. Social Monster hosts a calendar of monthly events, more than forty, at local bars, clubs, sporting events and cultural locations; membership is required.

For information on the Chicago Sport and Social Club visit www.chicagosportandsocialclub.com or call (773)883-9596; for Sports Monster, visit www.sportsmonster.net or call (773)866-2955; for Social Monster visit www.socialmonster.com or call (773)313-0038 (2001-03-29)

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