From the Sandy Trench of Glory: An Ode to Football on the Beach
It being late October, we're a long way removed from the peak of beach football season. But that didn't stop a determined swarm of West Coast invaders from storming the beaches of Santa Cruz this past weekend for an old-fashioned gridiron mash-up. And should you find yourself planted on a sunny swath of California beach or inhabiting some other unseasonably warm environs in the coming days, weeks, months, years or lifetime, here are some of the finer points of the game to keep in mind:
Transportation -- If you're serious about success, you won't drive a car. You'll show up at the field like a real man. On a beach cruiser.
Assemble a peanut gallery -- This way, one member of said assemblage of people can make a ruling on a controversial incompletion in the end zone, a ruling that somehow becomes the final arbiter on the play even though the peanut gallery member clearly didn't see what happened because he was distracted talking to the female members of the peanut gallery.
Don't ignore defense -- You may be playing touch football (because some of you have families to think about), but that doesn't mean you play soft on D. Here Jesse does his best Shawne Merriman impersonation to demonstrate the proper defensive techniques:
(Scouts: Take note of the vertical leap. That is not an optical illusion.)
Huddle up before every play -- This way, you can talk about how you're going to take the short, easy completions on this possession and then just end up going for the long bomb like you always do. Another reason to talk strategy is that if you actually do concoct a well-designed play -- such as a fake double reverse -- it is 100 percent guaranteed to make the defense look ridiculous. One other reason to huddle is that it's rare that you get to talk football strategy with a man wearing such a tremendously absurd headband.
Chest-bumping after a touchdown is not encouraged; it is mandatory -- Here The OCC demonstrates the proper technique with teammate Cunningham after scoring an early TD:
Mind the feet -- A beach may seem like a completely natural setting for an outdoor athletic endeavor, but one thing that's not natural is running on sand for two hours straight, particularly if you do so for two consecutive days. By day 2, odds are that your Achilles tendons will be as taut as a waterskiing rope and the arches of your feet will feel like they just got clubbed into a pulp with a sledgehammer.
Be careful at halftime -- It may seem innocuous to toss around the pigskin during a break in the action, but when you get to be in your late-20's, all bets are off. Just minutes after posing for this football card-style glamour shot (below), league member Hox -- who had already broken a toe on an earlier possession -- snapped his hammy reaching up for an errant throw. He was immediately placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
Post-game: A multi-step process
Step 1: Assemble rival teams (and assorted peanut gallery members) for group photo.
Step 2: Watch picturesque sunset.
Step 3: Leave beach in an orderly fashion.
Step 4: Consume copious amounts of undercooked red meat (please note that consumption of raw or undercooked meat may lead to bacterial infections such as salmonella, e-coli or trichinosis and could cause a stunningly realistic recreation of the campfire farting scene in Blazing Saddles).
Step 5: Stay well-hydrated.
Step 6: Wake up the following morning barely able to walk due to excessive soreness in feet, hastily pack up belongings, fly back to East Coast, pass out for 10 hours, wake up realizing you have a doctor's appointment in less than 24 hours for the broken hand you just spent a whole weekend ignoring, wonder why the hell you insist on giving your body such a severe physical punishment, and more importantly wonder just how long you'll have to wait before you can get back to the beach and do it all over again.