Among the greatest rewards in the world of sports is being able to compete purely for the joy of the contest. That simple joy is often lost as athletes move forward in their sports. The stakes get higher and the pressure increases.
This past weekend, more than 500 young people in Glastonbury re-discovered the pleasure of playing a sport for fun. They participated in the second annual KJ Life Flag Football Tournament.
This tournament is held each year in memory of Kenneth Joyce, who passed away in a skiing accident two years ago. The tournament raises money for youth leadership programs.
Like ultimate Frisbee, floor hockey and disc golf, flag football is a “cult” sport. It is played on open fields by students from elementary to graduate school levels. Teams vary in number and gender of players.
As in the traditional game, the goal is to run or pass the football until a touchdown is scored. Forward progress is stopped when a flag is removed from the waist of an opposing player. Plays are generally designed as the game develops.
While coaching and instruction are usually helpful, they can also be overdone. There are no coaches in the KJ Life Tournament, but officials are provided for each of the games.
“Players of any skill level can enjoy the game of flag football. All you need to do is know how to throw and catch,” said Pat Curry, a volunteer official. According to Curry, tournaments like this are a step back in time to the days of sandlot sports.
Flag football is an outstanding way to encourage fitness and fair play. A tournament like KJ Life is also a great way to memorialize the spirit of a young athlete who has inspired so many others.