On Sept. 17 the Octagon sat down with representatives from the red (juniors Aidan Cunningham and Adam Dean) and the black (seniors Jake Sands, Serajh Esmail and Jag Lally) teams to discuss the annual capture-the-flag game played at Ancil Hoffman Park. Some students say this year’s game was marred by especially rough play and excessive cheating. In addition, the black team (seniors and freshmen), which traditionally wins the game, was defeated for the first time in many years.
(Part 1 of this roundtable was published in the print edition on Sept. 22, 2015. Part 2 is found below.)
Q: Do you think this year the game was more competitive?
Jake Sands: At the end, it just got real neck and neck with the scores.
Jag Lally: Last year, my team got destroyed. Completely wrecked. But this year, it was really close, especially towards the end of the game. I feel like it was really competitive because of that.
Q: Were there any particular instances where the game got excessively rough?
Lally: Definitely the (senior) Julia (Owaidat) situation.
Sands: Somebody on the red team got our 100-point flag, and they were running; Julia launched herself towards the person and “caught caught caught” them. The flag was down, so another person from the red team grabbed the flag, but Julia held onto the flag. So somebody decided to just drag Julia with the flag across the ground for a solid 10 feet. Julia got pretty scraped up. Everyone was surrounding them – at that point, the teachers should have stopped everything for a couple seconds.
Aidan Cunningham: From my point of view, Julia should not have been holding onto the flag.
Sands: Oh, definitely.
Cunningham: Yeah, because you’re not supposed to grab your own flag once the game begins in the first place.
Adam Dean: There was another instance when I was in jail, and (junior) Daniel (Hernried) was coming to rescue us. (Senior) Johann (Dias) tried to cut Daniel off by diving and tackling him by the neck. While they were on the ground, Johann had him in a chokehold. (Dias was ejected from the game.)
Sands: Part of the problem was that when people had ripped shirts or no shirts at all, the only effective way to grab them was to throw them on the ground, which turned out to be quite a problem towards the end.
Q: What were some examples of cheating this year?
Cunningham: Every time we were walking back from jail, somebody from the black team would come and break the chain (freed prisoners must hold hands until they reach their territory), and we’d all have to run. And it wasn’t just once or twice. I don’t know if that’s cheating, but—
Sands: That’s definitely cheating. Also, sometimes people would just randomly break out of jail.
Dean: I feel like (referee teacher Patricia Jacobsen) should have told all of the teachers all of the rules beforehand. Some teachers were going by the rulebook but others weren’t, so everybody was playing by different rules.
Cunningham: Oh, can we just mention the poop-covered flag? That was, uh, that was a little bit—
Serajh Esmail: Hey, that was totally legal, dude.
Cunningham: Apparently it was legal, but I’m just going to say that it was kind of gross.
Q: Last year, the rule was that if you touched someone long enough to say, “caught caught caught,” they had to willingly come with you to jail. This year, due to a new rule, prisoners were allowed freedom if they broke free from their captors. Do you think this new rule affected the level of roughness in the game?
Cunningham: Yeah, I caught (freshman) Ben (Miner) once, and I seriously had to wrestle him all the way back to the jail. And at one point, he just fell on the ground and wouldn’t get up. The system doesn’t work if the people being chased have the ability to run away because even if you tag them, they’ll just keep running.
Q: There was controversy over the timing at the end of the game. What happened?
Sands: So we’ve looked at the handbook, and the rules say that there are four quarters of about 10 minutes each. And it’s the key phrase “about” that really destroyed the black team’s chance of victory. At the end of the fourth quarter, because our hamburgers were not yet cooked, the teachers added on 10 extra minutes – and during those 10 minutes, the red team got three of our flags, including the 100-point one.
Q: What could be improved for future games?
Lally: I think that to get rid of the violence, we should get flag football flags. That way, we could just pull flags instead of tackling people or having to rip shirts off.
Sands: Actually, they’re fixing that. They’re adding flag football flags to the game.
Cunningham: I don’t like that.
Sands: But it’s better because instead of dragging someone to jail or hoping they’ll willingly come with you, you can just hold their flag as you escort them to jail. That way, they can’t just run away from you. It’s much more clear, and the teachers won’t have to get as involved. They’ll only have to point out the occasional person who’s cheating by running around without a flag.
Dean: But what if I have an extra flag hidden in my pants? Even if I get caught, I can run away from my escort and whip out a second flag so I don’t get called out for running around illegally.
Cunningham: Yeah, and people can lose their flags, too. What if somebody didn’t even know they didn’t have a flag on? That’d be pretty terrible.
Sands: Well, people will cheat no matter what, so at least this will help a little.
Lally: Wait, here’s something I don’t understand – what was going on this year with the shirts? Can we just make shirts mandatory? How hard is it to wear a shirt—
Cunningham: Mandatory shirts. That should be a rule.
Dean: People get grabbed by the shirt. That’s why they rip.
Lally: Yeah, but that’s just what you have to do to grab people—
Dean: No, I grab people’s bodies every time—
Sands: This wouldn’t be a problem if we just used the flags.
Cunningham: Honestly, I think we should just go back to last year’s rules where touching someone long enough to say “caught caught caught” meant they had to come with you to jail. People will cheat by running away, I know, but at least we can say they’re cheating. This year, running away after getting “caught caught caught” was legal – we couldn’t even call it cheating, because according to this year’s rules, it was totally okay.
Sands: In general, the most important thing is for the rules to be kept consistent, regardless of what they are. The rules were explained to us pretty quickly this year, which caused a lot of confusion and inconsistency. Everybody just needs to be on the same page.
—By Marigot Fackenthal