In an age where The Big F (ah, that's Fun) is seemingly being siphoned out of sports by avarice and idiocy and egos, it's nice to hear the down-home story of the Hembry and Babbitt boys of Emerson, Iowa (population 430), young (and not-so-young) men determined to put The Big F back into sport.
One beer at a time. Three-hundred beers in total.
Every autumn for the past 10 years, on the weekend following the American Thanksgiving, the two clans, and assorted friends, congregate and clash in a titanic tilt outdoors in the elements on a frozen football field. All things considered, it's pretty old School, albeit old School with a twist. Here's how it all goes down:
Players under the ripe age of 33 on one side wearing white jerseys, all the oldsters on the other team in blue jerseys. Six-on-six. A 40-yard-field (don't want anyone to get too gassed, too quickly). One-hand touch. And one-hand only because, you see -- and here's the twist -- to play in this game, the rules clearly state you must be at all times clutching a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Yep, in this game everyone's a "clutch player."
Drop the beer at any time and you must (a) chug it (b) run and grab another. Apparently there's a little leeway in regard to the whole chugging part of the rule because sometimes it's so cold that lips and beer are virtually frozen, making chugging pretty much impossible.
Of course this is all but a ruse -- a great excuse for old friend's to reunite each year over (the aforementioned 300) beers, with guys coming in from as far away as Chicago and Kansas City. But isn't any excuse a damn good excuse to get together with old pals, clutch a (really) cold one, and play like the years aren't really catching up with you at all?
Twenty players showed up for this year's edition of the PBR Bowl at Bass Memorial Park. They came, they clowned, they talked trash...
According to their website (the site being about the only sign that these guys aren't completely old school), the game goes up to 70, or until "we get really tired, or run out of beer -- whichever comes first."
This year the old guys won both the game, 70-63, and the coveted red, white and blue trophy (festooned with beer cans) that accompanies the win. But really everybody won. Because tradition was upheld for another year. And, The Big F was put back into sport, if only for an afternoon in Iowa.