Powderpuff football in the old days


By Daris Howard
Special to The PREVIEW
My daughter told me she was playing powderpuff football. I found out the girls played against each other, which is much different from when I was in high school.
I remember coach gathering us football players in the dressing room before practice on Thursday, the day before a big game. I thought he was going to give us a pep talk, but the topic was about the next week.
“OK,” he said, “Monday is the first day of Homecoming week, so first thing in the afternoon, before practice, we have the powderpuff football game. Those of you who are starters will be playing, so come here right after you eat lunch. The rest of you are cheerleaders.”
“Hey, Len,” I said as we headed to practice, “what’s powderpuff football?”
“What rock did you crawl out from under?” Lenny replied. “Haven’t you seen a powderpuff game before?”
I shook my head. “I only started football in my junior year, and besides, my dad needed me for harvest every minute possible in the fall.”
“Well, the starting football team plays against the girls,” Lenny said.
“Won’t the girls get hurt?” I asked.
“Don’t worry,” he replied. “Things are equalized in their favor, and they always win. In fact, the boys have never scored a point no matter how hard they’ve tried. You’ll see.”
On Monday afternoon, we went to the football field. We had a slight introduction before the game. The first thing I learned was that every boy had one arm, his dominant arm, tied behind his back. We all had flags in our back pockets. The girls were allowed to tackle or grab the flag. The boys could not tackle, but could only grab flags. It didn’t take me long to see the challenge.
When the game started, the girls opted to receive. I got ready to kick off. But just before I could, our teammates on the sideline, who were all dressed in cheerleading costumes from their mothers, swarmed us, and the kick went nowhere. The girls had the ball at midfield. The girls had no rules, and after the ball was hiked, all girls except the ball carrier grabbed a guy and held onto his jersey so he couldn’t do anything. Two held onto me. That was when I realized there were more than the normal 11 girls on the field.
With the other girls holding onto us, the girl with the ball made a touchdown. It was then our turn to receive. But have you ever tried to catch a ball or pick one up with one hand tied behind your back? It was a comedy of errors, and the crowd roared with laughter. We had barely gotten the ball when the girls all grabbed the boy who had it and piled on him. We tried to defend, but it’s hard with one hand tied behind your back and girls grabbing your jersey.
The game went the same way all afternoon, and the score was 41 to zero. We had possession and came to a huddle for the last play of the game
“OK,” Lenny said. “We can’t win, but we could still make history if we can even score a point.”
We decided to do a big fake. The quarterback would act like he was giving the ball to the halfback, then all of the team, except the quarterback and me, would move to the right with the halfback. The quarterback and I would go left and move quickly down the field.
The fake worked beautifully. All 15 or so girls moved with the team, leaving an open field in front of the quarterback and me. With me flanking him, getting in the way of any girl who came at us, the quarterback moved quickly toward the goal line. It seemed sure that we would score the first points ever for guys playing powder puff football.
But we forgot about all of the boys in the cheerleader outfits on the edge of the field. Just about the time we reached the 10-yard line, the boys flooded onto the field and took both the quarterback and me down. Then the girls all piled on to end the game.
And so the score stayed 41 to zero. We didn’t go down in history, we just went down, and we still laugh about it.