Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indoor and Arena Football Nation

In addition to my passion for maps and boardgames, I am also a big fan of minor league arena and indoor football; a fast-paced, high scoring version of American Football. While games are played indoors on a 50-yard field, with padded dasherboard walls, they are two different game systems. Both the Arena and Indoor football seasons started this month.

Arena Football is the patented game system used by the Arena Football League and arenafootball2. The distinctive feature of Arena Football is the large net stretched across the end zone. If the ball bounces off the net, it remains in play. Indoor Football avoids violation of the patent (which expires this year) by leaving out the nets. In most other ways, the game is the same. Eight men on the field (sometimes seven), emphasis on passing, quick scoring, and fans close to the action.

Over the years many Indoor and Arena Football teams have come and gone in Ohio. Currently there are six teams in four different leagues.
However, the team that first got me hooked on the game was the Dayton Skyhawks, of the now defunct Indoor Football League. I happened to attend the last home game of the 1999 season and was able to get a front row seat near the endzone. I not only enjoyed the style of game, I appreciated being very close to the action. I could see and hear every hit, and it was even possible to interract with the players and coaches with some good-natured "trash talk". We teased one player about what he was going to do, and he looked right at us and said, "I'm going to score a touchdown!"

After the Skyhawks and the IFL folded up their tent, I had to wait a few years for another team. In 2005 the Dayton Warbirds offered terrific action on the field. Unfortunately, the shady financial dealings of their owners, and their league (the infamous National Indoor Football League), left a sour taste for the city, making it unlikely that another team will be able to succeed in this market for years to come. Fortunately, the Miami Valley Silverbacks play in the city of Troy, to the north of Dayton, and I can always make the trek to Columbus to see the Destroyers.

During the last two seasons I ran a website and fan forum for fans of indoor and arena football in Ohio. It was called Ohio Indoor Football, but that venture is currently on hiatus (update: now defunct). You all must admit, that I had a cool logo... (logo design by Robert Cole).

The best place on the Internet to find news and other info about indoor football teams, arena football teams, and teams in any other American and Canadian minor league sport (baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer and outdoor football) is OurSportsCentral.com. In addition to news, press releases, fan message boards, and netcasts, they also provide Google maps to locate all of the teams in all of the leagues. Below is the map for the Arena Football League.



Indoor and Arena Football. Check it out. Remember, if a ball goes in to the stands, you get to keep it. If a player ends up in your lap, you have to throw him back...

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