Edgy in the fraternity flag-football league

BY IAN MARTIN | OCTOBER 12, 2009 7:20 AM

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Flag-football typically doesn’t conjure images of hard fought battles or passion, but for UI fraternities participating in the intramurals league, the games can get intense.

Aside from men playing football, something different adds an extra edge to fraternity contests — something so unknown, different fraternities have different answers.

“It’s pride among the fraternities,” said sophomore Steven Schwartz, captain of Pi Kappa Phi’s flag football team. “If you can win [the flag-football league], then it’s almost like a recruiting tool where you could say to other people that you won.”

With pledge recruiting already competitive, almost all of the fraternities agreed winning the 10-team league helps get students interested in going greek.

“We like to use anything we can when we’re going through formal recruitment that we can use for bragging rights,” Sigma Chi’s Ross Meany said. Sigma Chi told this year’s recruits that the frat had won last year’s league championship.

A title can send a different message, though, based on the fraternity.

“[You can say] you’re the most athletic team on campus,” Schwartz said. “People want to join something like that.”

But Derek Schmitt of Sigma Alpha Epsilon looks at it a different way. In his eyes, it may be the recruits lost, not gained, that makes the league intense.

“The whole recruitment process in general, [fraternities are] competitive with that,” he said. “You’re fighting to get members, and then when you’re seeing people that you’ve tried recruiting [who] decided to go to different houses … then that causes a competitive edge.”

And with competition comes physicality. Fraternity league games are known for their physical nature, and players will not shy away from contact.

“It’s not like we hate another fraternity, but you’re going to back up your brother [in a physical game],” Schwartz said.

But some players say it may be the game, not the fraternity that makes things chippy.

“Because it is football, it is more of an aggressive sport,” Brandon Rodriguez of Tau Kappa Epsilon said.

Rodriguez’s team is one of the tops in the fraternity league and exemplifies one of two philosophies in the division. He said his frat will “definitely take it somewhat serious.”

His team may even practice once a week by playing catch and talking strategy, he said.

Schwartz said his Pi Kappa Phi team also plans ahead, and it even uses a passing chart with routes on occasion.

Meanwhile, other fraternity teams feel that planning is not the way to go about getting a victory.

“We usually just go out and wing it,” Schmitt said of his SAE 1 team.

Sigma Chi also upholds the same idea, feeling flag football should be more about a good time than a game plan.

“We kind of just meet on Sunday and go with whatever we’ve got,” Meany said. “We try to have more fun with it.”

No matter the amount of planning, games are always competitive. But most said it never gets too nasty on the gridiron.

“There’s still a level of respect,” Schmitt said. “It’s competitive. Everybody is out to win, but nobody has any enemies or anything.”

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