Wednesday, September 27, 2017
My son just (last Saturday) called me up very excited about his son’s win in an organized flag football game. He is the head coach, and as excited as he was about the win, he was happy about how both teams, coaches and players, were such good sports. It was a tough game but the losers took it in stride and everyone was friendly afterward. He was excited to be part of teaching children life lessons through sports.
I had a similar feeling from my youngest son's experience playing flag football. I don’t know why flag football is more relaxed than other competitive sports for young children but in the two leagues I know of, they are 2 for 2.
The rules are simple. It is football with grabbing a tail or “Flag” from a set of three on each player, instead of tackling. There is no blocking, everyone is eligible to catch a pass and you are only allowed one run play per set of downs. Everyone plays the same amount of time. Everyone has the chance to run back a kick or play quarterback.
The coaches keep score. There is a winner and there is a loser. There is a league standing, but in the end somehow no one gets too exercised over the final result. No one get a trophy. Everyone gets a nice team sweatshirt at the end of the year.
The very first game my son played in I was given a crash course in how this league worked.
I was helping out as an “assistant coach” in a game that went back and forth TD after TD. Near the end of the game, our team was leading by five points. There is a clock on the field so it was easy to see the time remaining. Our opponents completed a pass play to our five-yard line. Time was running out and the other team used their last time out to have one more play to try and score to win the game.
Our team stopped their play. They had one more down, but with the clock running down and only one second left, the win was clearly in our pocket.
Our coach ran out on the field yelling “Time out, time out.”
I was screaming to myself, “What…no…no! Oh, the humanity!”
The other team had one more chance to score. We stopped them again. We won a very close, very exciting game.
After everyone shook hands and the kids all ran around passing, and catching, and kicking before the next game started I went up to our coach.
“Coach, the clock was going to run out and the game was ours. You gave them one more chance. Why did you call that time out?”
His answer was simple and it established for me what this league was all about.
“I just wanted to see if we could stop them one more time.”
In thinking about it, that is pretty much what we would have done as kids when there was no supervision in our back yard pickup games.