Flag Football

January 9th, 2012 by Potato

Wow, nothing rubs in the cruel realities of old age (or, more precisely, a lifetime of sedentary computer work and the cruel realities of carrying around 40 lbs more than is healthy) like playing flag football against a bunch of 20-year-olds.

I don’t quite know how I got roped into it, but a few friends convinced me to join them in the TSSC flag football league. We didn’t have nearly enough players to form a team on our own, so we signed up as individuals to get randomly put together with some other folks to field a team. The other two guys who showed up to play were good, but unfortunately they were the only ones who showed up — we had to forfeit due to lack of players (though the other team had to forfeit from lack of equipment, so we called it even and played anyway).

There were a few incidents that made me question the whole concept of flag football. The idea is to have a little velcroed-on flag on your body that the other team can rip off to show that you are down, to avoid the brain-damaging tackling of “real” football. The thing is, sometimes you can’t grab the flag, but can grab the player. So at one point one of our guys (one of the younger, fitter ones — obviously not me ;) had two of the opposing players hanging off him, but because they couldn’t manage to grab his flag, he just dragged them across the touch-down line. I had to wonder if that was a kosher goal: on the one hand, they didn’t get his flag, but on the other, they clearly had caught the player. I don’t know, I think if I were faced with the same situation, I’d be sportsmanlike/defeatist and give the other team the benefit of catching me once they started to pull my pants down: yes, you’ve caught me. It’s ok, I won’t get all rules-lawyery about ripping the flag off being the only way to stop the play. The point of the flags is to avoid tackling and the ambiguity of two-hand-touch, and I don’t want to encourage people to tackle someone just to get the flag off at their leisure on the ground.

Speaking of which, I unintentionally knocked someone down, just pushed them the right way below their centre of gravity in the process of grabbing the flag, and down they went. I went down on the next play myself and learned just how deceiving the fake indoor turf is: it feels soft enough under-foot (actually pretty good for running on), but it’s like steel wool to the touch. I’ve got some real nasty turf burn down my leg now, not to mention some sprains and bruises that I’m really feeling today. So I feel pretty bad about (accidentally!) knocking someone down.

In the end, I wasn’t much help to our team: I made a few good plays, but also dropped a catch that was right to me twice, and one time as QB just threw it right into the arms of an opposing player (hey, he was open!). And while I did learn that I suck at football and am out-of-shape, I also found it fun. As much as I hate leaving the house and meeting new people, and as much as I suck at football, in the end I had a good time last night. No one cared that I sucked or gave the other team the ball almost as much as my own, and everyone was friendly and sportsmanlike. I think I’m going to try to sign up for more of these sports things in the spring, since team sports always seem to be a better motivator to go and exercise than just working out is for me.

2 Responses to “Flag Football”

  1. jonathan Says:

    1st rule of flag football at our age; we’re not playing with hope of being drafted to the pro’s, we’re playing for fun. Give it all you got, knowing that you still have to get up in the morning and go to work…

    2nd rule; Have ice packs and heat bags and cold beer on standby.

    3rd rule; Stretch before and after and during.

    4th rule; have you’re affairs in order encase your forget any of the first three rules….

  2. Netbug Says:

    Have a health plan that includes therapeutic massages. :)