Last night we hosted the famous, annual Fletcher Family Football Tournament. The football tournament has been a tradition for as long as I can remember but my husband and I have been hosts to it for the past eight or nine years. I have never won or even come close to winning and that tradition still holds. My youngest brother, Guy has also never won but he has come close to winning and that tradition still holds. My sister, Lucy has come close to winning before and last night she gave me a thumping that still makes my head hurt today. She beat me 23-0.
I may need to explain to my readers that this football tournament involves a board game that my Dad designed, developed and published in the fifties. It is copywrited and was quite a popular selling game locally but when Daddy contacted Parker Brothers back in the fifties they said thanks but no thanks to him.
That’s okay because our family and friends have kept this incredibly fun and addictive game our own carefully held secret, gathering together every year around Christmas, with my brother Bobby or my Dad drawing up a tournament bracket, and all the participants drawing numbers to decide where we will fall within the tournament bracket and to whom we will play.
No one wants to play my mother. She is called by one Champion The Intimidator. She will doom any player from the start of the tournament because she mysteriously calls plays that are never expected or logical and it always tricks the unassuming, unexpecting player. No one knows her playbook and no one can analyze it. Mother’s moving laterally when she should be line-plunging and she’s passing when she should be end-running. She beats her opponent so badly they don’t know whether they were coming in or they were just leaving and she puts them out of the single elimination tournament as easily as if she were saying, “Please pass the butter”.
The same sort of aura surrounds my father, who all the grandchildren call “Pappy.”
Last night “Pappy” played some great games, making it into the semi-finals, knocking off my sister, Lucy in a very closely fought contest. He held my son, Drew to a 10-10 tie. In the sudden death contest that went four quarters long, Pappy drove sixty yards down the field, scoring a touchdown, and winning by six.
Then he had to face Kate, my daughter, who had just come off a big win, beating former champion, Dorinda, my sister-in-law, winner in 2004 who in turn had just knocked off Gary Fletcher, my cousin, perennial winner in 2005 and 2007 and according to my Dad’s records a champ back in the sixties and seventies.
Even though Kate is the mother of an eleven month old son who will be a year old in three weeks and who is as rambuctious as the day is long, she helped me get the whole wing-ding ready, helping me to vacuum, prepare the food and even make a last minute run to Sams Club to get even more food but she still had the psychic energy that was required of a tough steely eyed competitor on and off the field to call the right plays and carry them out.
Kate beat my Dad. Not only that, she beat him in the very last few seconds of the game. That was some game.
But the story is not over. There is one player I have not yet mentioned, the eventual winner of the night. It was not my daughter, Kate. I haven’t yet mentioned my brother, Bobby Fletcher Jr., one of the biggest winning champs in Fletcher tournament history. He is the organizer of the tournament, having taken the mantle from his namesake, our Dad, the old man, Bobby E. Fletcher Sr.
Bobby, AKA, the Sargeant Major, was having a great night, beating all who had the unlucky draw of playing him.
The Sargeant Major had a great night, that is, until he played Mike, my son-in-law, husband of Kate, father of Noah, champion in the making. In Mike, the Sargeant Major met his match and fell to defeat, 14-7. Mike had beaten four other opponents before facing the Sargeant Major and after he put him away found himself in the finals facing his own wife, Kate, who tried to put some major psych-out on him but, unfortunately for Kate, Mike wasn’t having any of it.
Nothing doing. Mike wasn’t fazed in the least.
His defensive and offensive teams were finely tuned and well rested although this was Mike’s sixth and final game of the night. By the time Mike was playing Kate in the finals it was near the witching hour of midnight.
From the first kickoff it became evident that Mike’s team was dominating in punt returns, passing and rushing. He completely stuffed any attempts of Kate’s offense to take the field, much less make any first downs, defeating a tired Kate, 24-6 which was a crushing humiliation for her. Her team was simply beaten by a superior team, the best team of the year.
Mike now joins that exclusive pantheon of champions, one which I and two of my siblings have never been able to join, no matter how hard we have tried all of these years. There is always next year I suppose but there are those whose records have demonstrated potential and a great win/lose ratio that places them in a different category than the rest of us. Mike and Kate were edging up there the past few seasons and it was only a matter of time for them.
It was Mike’s time this season.
The biggest psych-out of the night? Both Kate and Mike wore their University of Oklahoma sweatshirts which was appropriate since both are graduates of O.U. Boomer Sooner!