Football fans in Florida know that the latest chapter of the Canes vs. Noles rivalry is set to unfold in Tallahassee next month. But they may not be aware of a smaller competition, scheduled to take place before the 8 p.m. game on Nov. 2.
This version involves less pigskin and more fine motor skills.
The United Way Flick Football Championship will pit a player from Miami against a competitor from Tallahassee in a tabletop football match, broadcast on jumbo screens to crowds at Doak Campbell Stadium. The game-before-the-game is the result of a challenge issued by United Way of the Big Bend in Tallahassee to United Way of Miami-Dade.
For the uninitiated, the tabletop game involves a piece of folded paper (or, in this tournament’s case, a specially created triangle that resembles a football). Players tap or flick the triangle across a table and score touchdowns by getting it in the “end zone” — hanging over the edge of the opponent’s side without falling off. Extra points, field goals and two-point conversions also factor in, though defense is pretty much nonexistent.
Ron Sachs, chairman of the board of directors for the Tallahassee-area United Way, won the benefit tournament there. Even though he grew up in Miami and attended the University of Florida, he will wear Florida State University colors “for the first time in my life” at the championship.
“If they gave letter sweaters for flick football in middle school, I’d have one hanging in my closet right now,” said Sachs, CEO of marketing, PR and advertising agency Sachs Media Group. “This is a skill I perfected. You never really lose the touch for the game.”
So who gets to represent for the 305? That will be decided Thursday night in a tournament at Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave. in Miami. Registration, which starts at 8 p.m., costs $10 a person and includes free draft beer; participants must be at least 21. The event will benefit United Way of Miami-Dade.
The event is open to 64 players, and so far about half as many have reserved space, said Yanet Obarrio Sanchez, spokeswoman for the local United Way.
“We do have a game plan,” she said. “We do have real rules. Anywhere where there’s beer, there has to be rules and referees and little charts.”
The local winner gets a pair of tickets to the sold-out game and two nights in a Tallahassee hotel that weekend; the championship victor on Nov. 2 will win two tickets to 2014 and 2015 UM-FSU match-ups.
More information is available at www.facebook.com/UnitedWayMiami, where participants can RSVP.
Ubi Hernandez, 31 and a lifelong Miami Hurricanes fan, plans to compete at the Miami event — and has been practicing for a couple weeks already.
“It’s a pretty good opportunity,” Hernandez said. “You’re giving some time to United Way and you’re also dealing with UM. It’s a win-win situation.”
Whoever wins in Miami will have a fierce but possibly hobbled opponent in Sachs, who is recovering from an injury to his flick finger.
“I’m trying to heal this cut so I’m not affecting my flickability,” he said. “I’ll be ready for the Miami area winner.”