Touch Football: A time honored tradition
We are exactly one week away from Thanksgiving Day. It’s time to order the turkey, drop the tablecloth at the cleaners, and try to remember how to make the perfect pie crust.
Thanksgiving is about two things…food and football. In New England, we start the day by getting the bird in the oven then heading to our local high school fields for the annual Thanksgiving Day rivalries. Leaving the turkey unattended in a 350 degree oven never seems to be an issue. There will be plenty of time for basting later, and hopefully no calls to the fire department.
As the day goes on, the NFL takes over. Millions of Americans will spend the better part of twelve hours on their backsides watching the Lions, the Cowboys and the featured prime time game. It’s not all about the pros though. Another time honored tradition in many homes is the annual pick up game of touch. Touch football is for all ages, genders and some cases, family pets. Game planning can be helpful, along with a quick study of the rules.
She’s Game Sports offers some suggestions and tips.
1. Kickoff time:
Game must be played before eating.
Once the food has been consumed, along with several adult beverages, all bets are off. After we’ve had dessert most of us just want to lie down and change into something without a waist band. So, start your game well before sitting down for dinner.
Kickoff time is should be decided by the host. Timing is everything in the kitchen, so get your butts out there well before the bird comes out of the oven.
2. Playing surface:
Preferably a grassy area without major divots or dog doo doo. Obviously, you don’t need 100 yards. Nobody wants to run that far except the youngsters 21 and under.
3. Team selection:
There are many factors in picking the right players. Just like the NFL game, there is nobody more important than the quarterback. 12 year old Sarah may be begging for the job, but forget it. Pick someone who can throw the ball. There are very few running plays in touch. They just don’t work. After choosing your quarterback, take “the best player available.” This is not about feelings, this is about bragging rights.
4. Two hand touch vs. one hand touch:
All touch football should be two hand touch. Playing one hand touch is for old people, or lazy people, or people that have already had a few adult beverages.
5. Don’t be a hero:
If you are over the age of 40, chances are you will get hurt if you do something beyond your personal degree of difficulty. There is nothing worse than someone getting injured and ruining the day with a trip to the emergency room.
6. “Five Mississippi” is the count:
The defense can not rush the quarterback without first hearing a five syllable count. Just go with “5 Mississippi.”
7. Don’t be a ball hog:
You might think you are the best player on the field, but at some point let a kid play quarterback. Like 12 year old Sarah.
8. Move the chains:
Two completions equals a first down no matter the distance. Throwing and catching a football is not as easy as it looks on TV.
9. The End Zone:
Make sure the end zone is clearly marked and unmovable. A huge oak tree or a large rock formation work nicely.
10. Playing calling:
There is really only one audible in touch: “Everybody go deep!”
In the end it’s all about the fresh air, comraderie, some good laughs, and nobody getting hurt.
Thanksgivng: Food, football, fun. It’s American tradition. Time to be thankful.
Photo courtesy: Mike O’Halloren
Scene from “The Wedding Crashers”