Chair football: slowly becoming America’s game

Peter King

MINNEAPOLIS ñ The football stadium is one of the smallest, most cluttered and cramped imaginable ñ seven desks with seven computers in an area the size of an airplane bathroom.

The field is concrete hard, patched up, unraveling and worn out utility carpet; the purple puke colored kind ñ far worse than the turf at the Metrodome.

The uniforms usually consist of backwards baseball caps, baggy blue jeans, “nice” dress shirts and brown, broken in Docs.

Sounds like a football team considering contraction. But think again. This team isn’t going anywhere. In fact, they’ll only get bigger and better.

The players on this team can be considered innovators of a sport sure to sweep a nation like Major League Baseball did in the 1920s, especially after the world reads this article.

They are The Minnesota Daily’s chair football team ñ believed to be the one and only of its kind in the nation.

“The sport started one rainy day in early 2001,” said John R. Carter, one of the pioneers. “We were just throwing a football around from chair to chair, and then it developed into an all out battle of true grit and glory.

“Now, almost a year later, chair football is a work of art ñ a beautiful sport so majestic and rewarding, athletes sweat while they’re sitting down.”

The pageantry of chair football is developing fast inside the Daily’s arena ñ a modest complex across from Peking Garden.

Sure, there are on-field issues such as the obstruction of computers, media guides, a refrigerator and a wall clock. Carter said those are unique aspects of their surroundings ñ like Fenway’s Green Monster and Wrigley’s Ivy.

But outside, the quest to make chair football a national treasure is moving like a 90-year old lady drives.

Like the boys in The Sandlot, The Daily’s team seeks true competitors. Lining up across from each other day after day only fulfills so much. The desire to be challenged grows greater everyday.

“We just want to play someone, anyone. We want to teach the world our game. And we want to dominate,” said David La Vaque, one of the original six players. “It’s like we have one of the hottest chicks in the world locked up in our bedroom, but no one else wants to see her.”

It’s sad, really, chair football hasn’t become a national treasure yet. Unlike the XFL and the CBA, chair football is a unique team game everyone can enjoy.

The beauty of chair football is this aspect: No matter how talented, tall or quick off you feet you are, chair football is a sport dominated by all.

Brian Stensaas is a great example. The 5-foot-8 Stensaas, runs the 40-yard dash in just under 10 seconds. His make-up is far from one that screams: “Cover that guy, he looks dangerous.”

Yet the fragile, immobile and certainly not agile Stensaas is a force at wide receiver in chair football. One game, “Stensational” camped his body in the back of the endzone and hauled in a record six touchdowns.

“You know, I just found my niche,” Stensaas said. “I wish all those losers on my high school football team could see me now. Cause they’d be wishing they had me back then. I mean, if I played on a chair, we would have gone to state.”

Now that high school football is no longer an option, Stensaas and his teammates are focusing on bigger and better things.

Sure, they want to bring in outside teams to play in their setting, but no chair football teams around the nation have been adapted by other college newspapers.

Title LXIX has forced every other college newspaper to do actual work, and have no fun ñ thus, there’s no time for chair football.

“It sucks,” said Melinda DeArmond, sports reporter at the Daily Iowan. “We see those homies at The Daily having all sorts of fun, and all we can do it write.”

With no teams to play, Daily sports has turned to the real kind of football teams as possible opponents.

Another brick wall was hit.

No Division-III football teams want to forfeit a home game to play in the Daily sports section.

So the only current option under consideration is a nonconference battle between the Daily and the Gophers next fall in the Metrodome.

After all, Minnesota coach Glen Mason is notorious for playing “cup-cake” teams prior to the Big Ten season.

“You know, I don’t consider any team out there soft,” Mason didn’t actually say. “If athletics director Tom Moe and our staff can work something out, we’d love to play them. Their offense is surely unique being that they sit down and all. I would compare it to Northwestern’s attack ñ it would be a good test for us.

“And after all, they are home-town competition. And we love playing rivalry games, they are great for college football. That’s what college football is all about. Rivalry games. If it weren’t for rivalry games, college football wouldn’t be college football. Don’t you love rivalry games? Cause I do.”

Ah, sorry coach, we’re going to cut you off there. Don’t you have some recruiting to do or something?

The Daily sports staff is equally enthused.

“To be the best on campus, you have to beat the best,” Anthony Maggio said. “We’ll take them on and I will guarantee victory. We will win and we will take another one of their trophies.”

While a date with the Gophers on the Dome turf is up in the air, the Daily writers will continue to play on ñ against themselves.

The next scheduled inter-Daily contest takes place this weekend. The sports staff will split itself in half and do battle again.

It will be just another game in the quest to make chair football the most popular sport in the world.

“I might not be alive when chair football becomes the sport American’s embraces,” Carter said. “But at least I was there when the first kicked off.”

Peter King welcomes comments at [email protected]