Sunday Warriors

The quarterback drops quickly back into the pocket and feelspressure from blitzing safeties and linemen almost immediately.Instead of panicking, he shuffles off a quick pass to the centerfor a nifty gain of about 20 yards. The center? Yes, you heardright, the center.

A shovel pass to a lineman, illegal in regulation football, isjust one of a myriad of creative offensive options available toshifty quarterbacks and their teams in flag football. In a displayof limited physical ability and almost no natural talent I havebeen playing on a team through the beginning of this year’sintramural season in an effort to understand the increasinglypopular sport.

On a series of increasingly cold but thankfully dry Sundays overthe last month intramural flag football has taken over theCommunity Field at 11 a.m. for some competitive yet extremelyentertaining seven on seven competitions. The rules are simple andare adapted for PSU from NIRSA regulations, short for the NationalIntramural and Recreational Sports Association. While there is notackling (it is flag football, after all), play is certainlyphysical, especially off the line of scrimmage. Hard blocks, stiffarms and shirt-destroying grabs at the flag are just a part of thegame, though there are referees to enforce the rules.



Team Name Win/Loss

The Hitmen 4/1
Run & Gun 3/2
Evil Shenanigans 5/1
Freshman Fockers 4-2
Team Ankles 1/4
Team MK 0/5

With that in mind, I thought I was ready. Heading down to thefield on “free agent” day I was ready to make animpression and get picked up by a team. How hard could this be? Itdidn’t seem that bad at first. I joined a team of pretty goodplayers and though we eventually got blown out I was thrilled whenI caught a couple of passes and scored a meaningless touchdown nearthe end of the game, though I didn’t get to do the Dirty Bird. I’dbeen burned on defense several times and my knees and lungs werekilling me, but I was hooked. League coordinator Ryan Vesalpourpromised to put me on a good team and I left feeling tired buthappy.

The following week was rough for me, as I was on the mend frommy stay in the hospital. Not to mention my completely out-of-shapebody was still sore from the last time. For the next two weeks Ibounced around from team to team. Apparently no one wants a5’8″ wideout who can’t play defense or block. When I couldn’treplicate my TD scoring and pass catching ability from the firstweek’s action, I had several very short stints at center andlineman. I was plainly overmatched at both spots. Shifting back towide receiver I found a team willing to put up with my confusedroute running and porous D (thanks Mighty Kings!). The quarterback,a guy named nicknamed Double, assured me if I tried hard they’dforgive most of my mistakes. All I ask.

Last Sunday was my first time out with the team, who before thegame were 0-4 on the year. I’m sure they weren’t thrilled to see mepenciled into their lineup, but they only had six guys and I madeseven. Going against a good team in a game that counted was fardifferent than playing in a meaningless pickup game, and I waslost. On defense receivers routinely burned past me, making my headswivel as if they were Terrell Owens in Madden.

On offense I was still very much Owen Smith, unfortunately.Luckily my much more experienced teammates were up to the task andwe rallied to lead our game 12-6 at the half.

That’s when things started to go down hill for the Mighty Kings.Our speedy wide receiver Alex started to harp about not getting theball, Double was throwing into double coverage and the game wasstarting to slip away.

By the time anyone noticed the score had ballooned to 48-12, andwe had the dubious distinction of losing to a team named theFockers. At 0-5 Team MK is in last place, but there’s hope. Theplayoffs will start in a few weeks, and even the last place teamwill have a shot at intramural championship glory.

I’m probably not into flag football as much as most of the otherguys, considering I kind of suck at it. But I’m looking forward tonext Sunday anyway, which is the real appeal of the sport–youdon’t have to be good to like it. Oh, and the chance to do theDirty Bird in the end zone.