Santa Monica Co-ed Beach Flag Football
Joshua Grey runs Santa Monica Co-ed Beach Flag Football, one of the largest flag football groups in the world with almost 3,000 members and more than 150 players attending games each weekend. The group plays every Saturday and Sunday along the border of Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles.
Tell us about your league.
We're a large and diverse group of flag football fanatics that plays free pick-up flag football at Santa Monica Beach every Saturday and Sunday year round. We also offer a free seasonal competitive league for our advanced players. We're heading into our fourth year and were growing faster than ever. Our group welcomes players of all levels from complete novices to highly experienced semi-pros. Our group's value system in order of importance is safety, sportsmanship, fun, exercise, and competition. I think we have such a consistently high turnout each week because we're a friendly group that has a genuine passion for football...that, and the fact that we're free!
As a field tester for the AfterDark Flag Football kit, can you share what your first game was like?
It was amazing! First of all, it caught the immediate attention of our members. We had a long member's only waiting list to attend our first AfterDark game. The lights in the jerseys were awesome and the LEDs in the cones that marked the field were really bright. The flashing countdown on the jersey of the quarterback worked perfectly. And it was exhilarating for me as a quarterback to watch the bright glowing football spiral through the night sky. The spectacle prompted a group of people at a nearby bonfire to come by and watch us play. They had never seen anything like it before. Our group is already urging me to set up another AfterDark game.
Who do you think would enjoy playing with the AfterDark kit?
Well, our members certainly did. It gives casual groups and organized leagues - that may have limited daylight hours to play - a way to hold games for their players after dark. I could also see this becoming a regular night league, which would be really fun.
You've been managing and playing flag football for a number of years. Do you see any changes in who is playing or how it is played?
Flag Football is the fastest growing recreational sport in if the US. Many traditional tackle leagues are converting to flag football leagues for a variety of safety reasons. Flag football gives all of our members - even our collegiate and semi-pro players - a chance to play at a high level of competition while maintaining a much safer environment than tackle football.
Why do you think flag football is a great sport?
I think that flag football is an awesome game. I often tell our members that it's a microcosm of life; it's a physical activity that allows players to excel as individuals, but it also teaches individuals how to operate as a team. Players are also given the opportunity to practice their social skills. We all need this same set of skills and attributes in order to succeed at life when off the field.
As NFL season is starting up, we have to ask: Who will you be supporting?
I grew up in Saint Louis before the Cardinals relocated to Arizona. Years later, the Rams moved from Los Angles to St. Louis. I like both teams - but with my support divided by team relocation, and no team in LA - I feel free to support whatever NFL teams the players on my fantasy football team play for.
If anyone reading this wants to join you, how can they get involved?
They can just turn up! All of our games are FREE and we're the only group in Los Angeles that plays pick-up flag football every Saturday and Sunday year round. New players just need to bring a positive attitude, a sense of enthusiasm, and be ready to have some fun!
For more details or to join our group, please visit us on Meetup.com. You can also learn more about our group by watching a video we made titled: 'A day with Santa Monica Co-ed Beach Flag Football'. It shows we have really involved members and there's no stereotype.
We also invite you to follow us on Twitter at @SMbeachfootball and on Instagram at SMbeachfootball.
Enter to Win
Our nighttime flag football uses advanced fiber-optics and interactive LED technologies to light up the players, footballs, flags and the field.