Commentary: Flag-football players need to calm down

BY IAN MARTIN | OCTOBER 14, 2009 7:30 AM

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This is for a few select players of intramural flag-football.

You know the guys: They take the game a little too seriously, get in other players’ faces after a big play, and worst of all, give the refs way too much flak.

By the way, if you don’t know of anyone who is that guy, maybe look in the mirror.

It’s just college intramural flag-football. While a trip to the All-University championship in the Bubble may seem glamorous, is it really worth shaming yourself over, yelling at a freshman referee?

Many intramural officials are in their first or second season with Recreational Services, not seasoned NFL vets. The MLB playoffs demonstrated this past week that even the best professional officials get calls wrong.

So if the pros aren’t getting the calls right, why should anyone always expect correct call from our intramural flag-football guys?

That’s not to say they’re great at what they do. I have seen some atrocious calls in some close games during the last few months. But even rarer is a logical response to the call.

Instead of either playing through it, or at least civilly pleading their case, I’ve seen graduate students scream profanities at freshmen and then blame the other team for being “immature” after the game is over.

The behavior is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in sports, and I’ve sat court-side to see Rasheed Wallace play basketball. For a league with the best flag-football team in the nation in UISC, some other intramural squads rank nowhere near the top in the “best behaved”category.

Remember, it’s just flag-football, not college football. Hawkeye Recreation Field No. 7 isn’t Kinnick Stadium. And you’re not Shonn Greene, so yes, a flag should be thrown after a stiff arm throws an opponent to the ground.

As for the sometimes rough play, I understand football is a physical game. But flag football was invented so people didn’t have to be as physical while playing.

I’m not discouraging any competitive play. I’ll admit if I was allowed to participate, I would go as hard as I could for most of the plays (then stand on the sidelines the rest of the time). But there is a fine line between intensity and insanity.

Just think about how bad behavior reflects on you as a player. Berating the referees and trying to get your way screams out, “Look, I can’t handle my demeanor in a game of leisure, and my temper is so bad, I have to take it out on those younger than me.”

On Monday, I commented on the fraternity league and how its players are the most competitive. But when I have happened upon the frat league and its brothers, there are times where I can barely watch — Ochocinco-esque celebrations, Reggie Jackson smack talk, and people taking it a little too seriously for my taste.

Some may say I’m a stickler for the good old days of flag-football (example: my second- grade YMCA league) where no one challenged the referee’s decisions, the days where kids younger than everyone I’ve seen at the Recreation Fields didn’t gripe or whine.

They simply played the sport.

And you know what? I am a stickler because the attitudes of some players (and whole teams) are just downright ridiculous. If that can change, then maybe one of the few things marring our flag-football league can change, too.

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