Welcome, sports fans, to the 2016 Oakleaf Olympics. This year’s contest promises to be an epic struggle between the defending champion Team Oak and the upstart Team Chatsworth, a newcomer to this division although with a decade of recent experience in Sweetgum/Linden League play.
The arena is a typical rectangle (a bit larger than normal at ½ acre, or 0.20 hectare for the European fans in the audience), measuring 109 ft wide by 200 ft long (approx. 33 m x 61 m), with flat topography – a distinct advantage for Team Chatsworth – and bounded on three sides by fencing.
The rules are simple. In each game, Team Oak receives one point for each player still retaining any scoring assets (leaves) that can later be put into play. Team Chatsworth receives one point for every completely-filled extra-large leaf bag that is placed over the goal line (a/k/a front curbing) during that game session. The timespan of each game is determined by various factors such as rain, available natural light, and musculoskeletal mishaps (obviously this last only applies to Team Chatsworth).
Team Oak has a really – and I mean really really – deep bench this year. In fact, they have so many players that there’s a bench on all four sides of the stadium: east, west, north and south!
The first string of 11 players are those whose roots are truly local: as in, right inside the arena. The second string (seven players) crowd right up along the opposite side of the fence/bench line, ready to make their contributions whenever called upon by the wind. So that’s a starting lineup of 18 for Team Oak.
And if that wasn’t enough, they have three backups lurking about 20 feet behind the South bench, and a truly hulking veteran the same distance past the West bench – pretty darned intimidating!
Team Oak also has a cheerleading squad… the well-known Maples sisters. The older one, a redhead who took up residence just over the fence from the arena many years ago, is relatively well behaved. However, her sister – a somewhat top-heavy blonde whose name is rumored to be Marla – is shockingly brazen. In fact she is snuggled cozily between two tall studly players on the West bench, ready to jump in and create trouble for the opposing team whenever needed in the late-season games. It hardly seems fair. 😦
Their elegant cousin Coralbark (featured in a fashion spread in the Autumn Strolls post) attends the early games but would never dream of being so crude as to mess up the field. Well, not much anyway. The same certainly can’t be said for the eccentric dowager known as F. Lowering Cherry, who shows up every spring in an extravagantly frilly concoction worthy of a botanical Ascot, then fades into obscurity until the first week of November when she again makes a spectacle of herself by doing a flaming-yellow complete striptease in an extremely visible portion of the field. No doubt the Team Oak players appreciate such a vulgar display, although Team Chatsworth is far less charmed.
At first glance this matchup may seem hopelessly one-sided; what else is there to do but call in a crew of paid mercenaries? Alas, the salary cap is too low for that this season (see Mulch Madness) and so Team Chatsworth – the embodiment of the phrase “an Army of one” – must simply do the best it can.
In consideration of the significant size and strength disparity, Team Chatsworth is allowed to use two kinds of equipment: rake, and rechargeable battery-operated leaf blower (equipment powered by fossil fuels is not an option). However, the latter being by nature rather wimpy and easily exhausted after a relatively short time on the field, it is helpful only on the hardscaped portions of the arena.
One can only hope that this season will not be one of those in which Team Oak chooses to amuse itself by repeatedly bombarding the playing field with hundreds of small round projectiles wearing cutesy little caps. Bad form, chaps!
And now without further ado, here is the final score of Game One, played on Friday, November 6th.
Team Oak: 18
Team Chatsworth: 6
Pretty pathetic performance by Team Chatsworth but in fairness it must be said that the game got a late start (3:30 pm) which meant that the stadium lights began going out after only a couple of hours or so. Some nasty sniggering could be heard from the sidelines (squirrels are never well-behaved) but the good news is that Team Chatsworth did not sustain any early-season injuries. Let’s hope that continues!