By Paul Ingvaldsen / Staff Writer
Things in this world act like universal levelers. They make diverse types into a cohesive whole, agreed to by all participants.
One good example of a universal leveler is the ocean.
Got a bully attitude? Grab a surfboard and paddle out past the break, then suddenly become aware of a large dark shadow with a fin passing directly below. Or try wiping out seven times as waves throw a sand bar in your face for you.
Thus humility arrives to level us all.
My favorite universal leveler is flag football.
Anyone can participate just by registering for the class.
Everybody gets a nickname. Outstanding quarterbacks like Superman and Baldwin will be there. The fearsome Samoan warriors like Typhoon will show up. On the first day about 60 wildly disparate characters appear. Lots of posturing and stomping and bragging go on as we prepare to do battle like sumo wrestlers with two flags hanging like ribbons down our flanks.
By the time we’ve played eight downs, we’ve gone from “tough guy” ready to stomp the bediddlies out of any player who dares to cross our path to exhausted, sweating bodies full of remorse over bad habits.
”Should have worked out this summer.” Puff, puff.
“Gotta quit smoking.” Cough, hack , wheeze.
“Why did I stay up past 2 last night?” Pant, pant and so on.
Then we get our second wind and the game begins in earnest.
We change sides with every game. Guys like Typhoon, who maul you and toss you on every play then show up as nightmares can be your best teammate next game when your marching down the field scoring touchdowns. It gives one a dramatic perspective on another human being.
Several women play the game. One, nicknamed the Captain, was obviously inexperienced as she dropped a few passes early on, but after a few games she picked up the rules and soon was catching passes and outrunning some of the men. Nobody knew at the time, but we found out later she was the captain of the women’s soccer team.
By the time we’ve gone through a semester, we’ve stood with and against every player. We’ve become closer then we’d ever be just as students. People who’d ignore each other ordinarily are found on campus happily exchanging greetings.
Alas the flag football class was cut for budgetary reasons in 2013. Perhaps the great Oz in his wisdom might choose to restore this monument to bravado for us ordinary students, that we might share our limited skills with those who have gone before and briefly tread the field of glory at Veterans Stadium to universally level ourselves once again.