Sprint Football: Small Players Live Out Big Dreams

Love college football but not all the fat dudes? Ever dream of playing on the offensive line even though you’re the size of a jockey? Well, you’re in luck, because it turns out there’s a league just for you. And it’s sweeping…uh, at least six schools so far.  Say hello to football’s little friend.


Sprint football is just like the real thing, with one major difference: You can’t weigh more than 172 pounds to play (finally, a league for guys like Lucas). Basically, just imagine 22 punters running around. Mansfield University is the latest of many schools to say “we’ve had enough of the big football” and join the small revolution. Or maybe it’s the only school to do that in the last 50 years. I’m still wondering whether or not they use one of those plastic novelty mini-footballs.

The WALL STREET JOURNAL documents Mansfield’s journey of downsizing their football budget by downsizing the team intself:

…the Mounties could play at one-third the cost, thanks to smaller rosters, cheaper coaching staffs, less travel and no scholarships.Mansfield already had the facilities — a stadium, equipment and coaches’ offices. And it would be joining a group of elite schools. Still, Ms. Loeschke was skeptical. “I’d never heard of it, so it was astonishment, at first. Is it football light?” But after Cornell athletic officials talked to Mansfield’s board of trustees, she was won over. The team is getting by with a budget of $135,000.

Mansfield is the first school to join the Collegiate Sprint Football League in more than 50 years. The existing members are Navy, Army, Cornell, Princeton, and Penn. Which means I’m sure this guy played when he was in college:

Ed Helms is Andy Bernard

“Went to a little place called Cornell. Ever heard of it?”

The sport used to have a little more prominence, and an even more ridiculous weight limit:

Sprint football does have a history. Hall of Fame coach George Allen early in his career was an assistant with Michigan’s now defunct 1947 sprint team. Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense, happily recalls playing various positions at Princeton (class of 1954), when the weight limit was 150 pounds. “The crowds were modest,” he says.

Those of you in the Saratoga Springs area can revel in the Allegiance Bowl next Saturday. The annual game between Navy and Cornell is the premier event in sprint football, so says THE SARATOGIAN:

The matchup of Navy and Cornell, undefeated league champions from the 2008 and 2007 seasons, respectively, is much anticipated by sprint football fans. Both teams have captured Allegiance Bowl championships in the past.

According to event chair Scott Perkins, the game could have a significant impact on final league standings.

“I have spoken with the head coaches of both Navy and Cornell and they know the Allegiance Bowl holds the key to their season,” Perkins said. “It is no secret that this critical game may very well decide the league championship.”

It’s such a big game that Jimmy Carter is taking a break from his Middle East travels to serve as Honorary Chairman of the event.

Doesn’t it seem like the Ivy League schools would be a little outmatched by Army and Navy? I know the service academies don’t have great normal-football programs, but shouldn’t their smaller guys just be physically superior in every way to Penn kids? Heck, Princeton’s team just runs around the field haphazardly while wearing loud orange blazers: