A quarterback drops back in the pocket, dodges a defender and heaves a bomb over the middle of the field to his receiver for a touchdown. This is not a typical football game. The field is asphalt and there are no shoulder pads — just bike helmets and unicycles.
The Unicycle Football League was founded in 2007 by Marcus Garland, aquatic biology senior, and is unique to San Marcos. According to the UFL’s website, “Pedestrian football is outdated.” Garland said the league serves as an outlet for people who do not play typical organized sports to be part of an athletic community.
However, some conventional football players are involved in the league as well.
Carlton Pride, former Green Bay Packer and founder of local reggae band Carlton Pride and the Mighty Zion, said he has refereed almost all the games since its inception four years ago. He said Garland asked him if he would be interested in assisting in the development of the league.
Pride’s band and another local group, The Organics, played a benefit show last Wednesday for the UFL. The league has been invited to New York City for a national unicycle convention on Sept. 2 through Sept. 4, but is lacking in funds to attend.
“We got invited this year, but I think we were too ambitious with the amount of time we had to get ready,” said Magnum 44, a player in the league. “We are going to wait until next year to attend so we will have everything ready to go.”
He said the league is planning a “mini-road tour” in major cities on the way to New York to spread the word about the league.
“When I heard about the sport, I thought it was extremely unique,” Pride said. “I wasn’t about to get on a unicycle but I figured I could help with the creation of the rulebook since I have played football in college and professionally.”
Pride said the rules are similar to regular football, but are manipulated to suit players on one wheel rather than 2 feet.
Players must be mounted on a unicycle to advance the ball or make a tackle (or flackle). The unicyclists wear flags on their hips and, when the ball carriers flag is pulled off, he is down. Players can also be tackled by “using the least amount of force to dismount the ball handler to dismount their unicycle.” Instead of a coin toss, a player from each team jousts to decide who gets the ball first.
Magnum 44 said he moved to San Marcos for the UFL in 2009. He said he learned to ride a unicycle in the Air Force.
“While it definitely gets competitive, the ultimate goal is to have fun and entertain the spectators,” he said.
He said the league has encountered some problems with an insurance policy, city police and a permanent location. These obstacles have not stopped them from continuing to play and expand the league.
Drew Callahan, a player for the “Illegals” team, said if anyone wants to join the league, simply get a unicycle and a team will “take you under their wing.”