Dave Esteves and the recently formed ALKU basketball team had never won a game, but they set lofty goals for this season.
“We plan on going undefeated, first of all,” said Esteves, captain of a squad that entered the year with an all-time record of 0-18. “When the first win comes in the first game of the season, we’re going to go out to one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in Arlington and go a little crazy with our favorite bartender, Al.”
If you assumed that ALKU is a college with a fledgling hoops program, you’d be mistaken. It’s actually a technology consulting company in Andover, and it is among the growing ranks of local businesses sponsoring athletic pursuits for their employees — everything from basketball and softball to unusual offerings, such as Ping-Pong and cricket. As with school sports, the aim is to build a sense of community, earn bragging rights over rivals, and make work a little more fun.
“Camaraderie is lacking in many corporate environments these days because so many employees are isolated by deadlines and the high demands of their industries,” said Nancy McGeoghegan, sales and marketing director for the Boston Ski & Sports Club, a popular recreational league organizer. “I think these companies are saying, ‘We can’t burn our employees out. We have to give them some fun, or they’re just not going to last.’ ”
Participation in BSSC rec leagues has doubled in the last decade, to more than 50,000 people, with much of the increase from corporate teams. Nationally, recreational adult sports league participation is up 20 percent over the last two years, according to the Sport & Social Industry Association, a trade group for businesses that manage such leagues.
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