Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Triumphs and Sorrows of IM Flag Football

BY ARVIN ABRAHAM

I wear ridiculously short shorts on Sunday mornings. Ludicrously short. I mean so short that if these shorts got any shorter they’d be considered Daisy Dukes. Why? No I’m not acting out any hidden fetishes-at least not consciously. Rather, the short shorts are part of the wardrobe for my IM football team, Simon’s Angels. Every Sunday morning I put on my short shorts, a headband, and an appropriately crass T-shirt and head out to Soldier’s Field with my team. (I’d like to think that we look damn sexy in this garb, but like most things I realize that this is a matter of interpretation.)

IM football, like many things at HLS, is taken very seriously-sometimes too seriously. People get out on the field and start trying to relive their high school and college glory days. Never mind that it’s just a game and that there’s no Super Bowl Trophy at the end. Sometimes the quest for bragging rights is just as important.

The atmosphere on the field can get almost as high-strung as the atmosphere in Langdell during finals-or at least how’d I imagine it to be during finals since I’m only a 1L. I was shocked to see how intense people are about their IM football. The game is played so viciously that people have had some pretty grave injuries; I’ve heard of guys who’ve broken bones and gotten concussions. I have to confess that our team hasn’t been immune from the bloodlust that propels Harvard Law Students to compete. In one game a few weeks ago one of our players broke his pinky, another bruised his trachea, and I fractured my septum. (For those of you who don’t know, your septum is the cartilage in your nose. Yes, some large 2L really did shove his elbow in my face and deviate my septum. Yes, I got it fixed. Yes, I still look as ugly as I did before.)

I’d like to think that the Angels aren’t your typical flag football team. We don’t view the sport as just a quest for bragging rights (unless we’re playing Mike Glick’s team-be afraid buddy); for us it’s an expression of male chauvinism, a chance to revel in having fun, and, most importantly, to show off in our short shorts. You see the secret to our team; the secret to our success; our raison d’être, is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. While other teams hold practices and plot strategies before coming out to the field we prefer to take a more laid back approach. An intense practice for us is a long session at Cambridge Commons-trust me, some of our practices are brutal.

What discussion of the team would be complete without talking about our coach, Simon Conway-quite possibly the best import from the British Isles since Bono? Simon is about 5′ 8″, built like a rock, Oxford-educated, and quite single-this sentence was a gratuitous add-on for the ladies out there. We interviewed several candidates before hitting on Simon but we knew he was perfect when we heard about the following exchange:

“Amber Alert” Woods: “Do you know anything about American football?”

Simon (in a quintessential British accent): “I’ve watched the Mighty Ducks.”

Awesome!! The minute I heard about that I knew we’d found our coach. Who better to coach a team that doesn’t really take itself seriously than a guy who’s never played football in his life?

Some people consider our approach to the game to be sacrilege. To those critics I say lighten up and have some fun. Not everything needs to be about winning or losing. Sometimes it’s more important to just be able to put on your short shorts and have a good time.

Arvin Abraham is a 1L from Fresno, California.

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