Last night was the inaugural game for Greenville's new Indoor Arena football team, the Force. I fondly recall the previous team, so when I heard the game was on, I had to go. It was a bumpy start, but a good game and everything I hoped. Good entertainment at a low price.
The start of the game was delayed due to a carpet error. Seems the team purchased the field carpet (astro-turf) from another team that folded. So instead of saying the "South Carolina Force" it said "Austin Wranglers" and had the wrong logos. No matter, astro-turf is astro-turf right?
Well the second problem was that the purchased astro-turf was too small. There was about 10 yards at the back of each end zone that wasn't covered. Now these players are used to getting injured, but the idea of slamming your head on unprotected concrete isn't too attractive. Come to think of it, the idea of slamming your head against astro-turf protected concrete doesn't sound too attractive either. But regardless, the league wouldn't let them start until the concrete was covered. (true story - see here)
So, a quick trip to Lowe's brought in the astro-turf for one end zone. Wait a while, then come up with some carpet backing for the other end-zone. After an hour and a half delay, we were ready to start (the Lowe's trip may not have happened, but that's what those of us in section 100 decided).
Another mis-step when the announcer started his yelling. He asked the 3500 fans if we were ready to meet our Greenville Drive team. Uhhhh, that's the baseball team. Ok, he tried again, our Greenville Force. Uhhh, right team, but they try to pull from a bigger geography. Third time's the charm, our South Carolina Force. Yeah!!! It made for great jokes for all of us.
Once the game started, the referees with their whistles were a little like Barney Fife with his gun and bullet - ready to go off whenever they moved. But after setting the stage early by throwing flags like confetti, they settled down and let the play begin.
The game was all I expected. Sure it started slow and the players weren't professional. But most were local heroes, coming from colleges in the area (quarterback from USC, kicker from Clemson, head coach from Clemson). The quarterback made a beautiful pass to a small kid in the stands (way over the head of the intended receiver). We learned about rules that we didn't know, like you can kick a field goal on a kick-off and get an extra point. And one rule we never understood, when a kick-off was fielded by our team and the player stepped into the end-zone, giving the other team a point.
With the delayed start, the game went way past my bedtime. I left at the end of the third quarter. Our team was behind, but we would have left even if we were winning. And they didn't pull it out after we left, losing 39-18. But I will go back. The next game is April 11, just before my birthday (STRONG HINT here). Which comes back full circle as my first arena football game was for my birthday about 9 years ago.
And with that, I can't resist this ending since it's our team name - may the Force be with you.