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Singles Social Sports offers low-key way to meet someone new

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  May 15, 2013 01:01 PM

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Singles Social Sports

Singles Social Sports is coming to Boston, featuring softball games and post-game revelry.

How does a busy graduate student force herself to take time off to socialize — and maybe even meet someone to date? That’s the question Jessica Daniels faced three years ago while living in New York and working on a master’s degree in international relations.

“I did Match.com and hated it,” she said. “I needed a way to be social, that would force me to be social, because otherwise I could just sit inside and study all day.”

Then she heard about Singles Social Sports, a league where teams contain equal numbers of single men and women looking to meet someone in a relaxed environment. She met her boyfriend Joe while playing softball together, and when the couple moved to Boston they decided to bring the concept with them.

“One weekend we literally were walking past the Fens, and we saw some guys playing on the field, and we thought, ‘What if we started our softball league here?’” Daniels, 26, said in a recent phone interview.

The two are coordinating the new league, which will accept registrations until May 31 or until it reaches capacity. Games begin June 22 and will be played at Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Field on the Charles River Esplanade, with post-game celebrations at the North Star, at 222 Friend St. in the Bulfinch Triangle.

Daniels said the same complementary aspects of their personalities that brought her together with her boyfriend also make them good collaborators in establishing the league. His skills are in managing data and in qualitative analysis, while she’s more focused on aesthetics and marketing, she said.

Singles Social Sports, or S3, started in Chicago in 2009 and soon spread to New York. Boston is the third city to have an S3 league, previously featured on the Boston Magazine blog.

Founder Ben Shimon has had so much success in Chicago, where 4,000 people have signed up for S3 and four couples that met through the league are now married, that he has had to branch out, Daniels said.

“He’s now running social leagues, not just single leagues, because he un-singled so many people,” she said.

Daniels said the leagues attract a mix of people from age 21 to 42. Some have difficulty meeting people because they are shy or have unusual interests and hobbies, she said, while others are just fed up with on-line dating or trying to meet people in bars.

“The bar scene, for me, is just a myth,” she said. “I’ve never met someone in a bar or been picked up by someone at a bar.”

What works about meeting in an athletic setting, she said, is that it takes away the usual pressures of dating. People come together to play a game, and maybe they meet someone, but maybe they don’t. They get to know each other over time, through the shared activity, and see in a more natural way whether their personalities mesh.

“When you meet someone on a date usually, you get dressed up and you think about it before, and maybe you overthink it,” she said. “Every time I showed up [for a softball game] I felt like I was really myself, so that’s what people got.”

She said her first date with Joe didn’t start off as an official date, with the awkwardness that often accompanies that label. They were planning to attend a Knicks Game at Madison Square Garden and decided to stop on the way and have dinner together, just the two of them, she said.

“I just looked at him like, ‘Is this our first time hanging out alone? … I guess this is our first date.’” she said. “There was no pressure, because I already knew I liked him, so he didn’t have to impress me.”

For more information about Singles Social Sports or to register, visit www.s3boston.com.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Beacon Hill on Twitter: @YourBeaconHill.

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