Competition was very much alive and well in the federal prison camp. Getting involved in sports was one of the primary activities which brought escape to an inmate because for an hour or two they focused on winning the game and nothing else mattered.
The prison camp administration knew this very well and always encouraged the playing of sports by providing the necessary equipment for the events. There were officers in charge of the recreational department and seemed to have an endless budget to work from, it was that important.
The camp I was in had a baseball field that was very well maintained, an outdoor basketball court, a combination handball and racket ball court, an open field for flag football and soccer. They also had an outdoor volleyball court with sand that was raked before each game.
There were always a fair number of inmates to have a minimum of 4 teams for great physical competition. Baseball was one of the favorites that really brought out the competitive spirit in every one, even the spectators.
The Recreational department would reward the winning teams with commissary goods such as Gatorade drink mixes and name brand sodas, but the real reward was the pride and recognition of being on the winning team by other inmates.
I was always impressed at how well organized the teams were and how well they respected the rules for everyone to follow. Even the men who volunteered to be officials were respected. The Inmates who signed up to play agreed to honor the decisions of the officials and by doing so showed that their words can be trusted, very important to a prison inmate.
Sports were a great way to relieve tension and stress of being away from family. It also brought friendship and value to a man’s life at a time when male bonding was needed most for support in the months and years ahead. Sports became a good thing by making the days past quickly and something new to share with family members back home.
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