November is iconic for over-eating, turkeys, and football. So when these three things come together on Thanksgiving followed by a Turkey Bowl, there are few things more American than this. As you gather your family or friends at the local park, take into account the following tips to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe while taking part in this great holiday tradition.
Put Together the Roster
First thing’s first, you need to figure out who you would like to invite. Whether this Turkey Bowl will be limited to family or if it is going to be a neighborhood event, put together a list of those attending, along with their ages. This will help you to sort the participants into age appropriate groups. Create teams beforehand and make a roster so everyone knows who is on their team and who they will be competing against. This will help create some playful rivalry!
Stick to Touch Football or Flag Football
Unless you have access to full football protective equipment, keep the game tackle free in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible. If no flags are available for flag football, just play two hand touch to count as a “tackle”. (You can find football flags here.)
One great way to prevent injuries is to warm up before the game. Lead the teams in short rounds of jumping jacks, some light jogging and stretches before the games to help the muscles warm up. As your friends and family play football after warming up their muscles will be less prone to strains and other injuries.
Encourage the participants to wear appropriate clothing for physical activity. Clothing such as sweats and hoodies will be much easier to move around in than jeans and polos. The game will be more comfortable, grass stains will be less of a serious concern, and the participants will have a much more enjoyable time. Avoid wearing cleats, as they can cause injury to other players, as well as to yourself if you were to plant your foot too firmly while moving in the opposite direction.
Don’t be Too Aggressive
Turkey Bowls are meant to be fun and not necessarily too competitive. Especially for games being played by younger children, keep it light and encourage them to not be too aggressive. For adult games, this will also help set a good example for kids and prevent situations where injuries could occur.
Even fun football games can get your heart rate elevated and a good, solid sweat going. Provide water and sports drinks for your players to take part in before, during, and after the game. You can even put some of the non-participants in charge of filling little cups with drinks and helping their family and friends stay hydrated.
Be Careful of Injuries
If injuries do occur, as they very well might when playing any sport, use your best common sense to decide the degree of severity of the injury and the appropriate response for the injured. If it is an injury to the head, do not move the player until you are sure it is not a more serious injury. If the injury is a strain or a break in a leg, Dr. Skedros, an orthopedic surgeon in Utah suggests, “If it really hurts to walk, it’s reasonable to get an Xray from either your doctor or the ER”. Whatever course of action you choose to take, make sure there is a car nearby that could quickly transport an injured player if necessary.
Act Your Age
As you are playing your round of Turkey Bowl, remember to act your age. This does not mean simply in maturity but also in what your body is capable of doing. If you are 40, you cannot expect your body to play like it did when you were 20. Be aware of your limitations and remember to have a good time.
When planning the Turkey Bowl, keep in mind there may be friends or family members who are not going to want or be able to play. Young children may enjoy being cheerleaders and coming up with fun cheers for each of the teams. Others may want to play a game of tag or eye spy while the game is going on. No matter what, each game is going to need fans to cheer on the players and add to the festive environment.