By Dave Bonner
BSW Contributor

The long term impact sports has on our lives is unmatched. 

Fifteen years ago I was invited to join a group of guys to play pick-up football at a local park. I don’t know why I was asked other than that I was at the gym at Westside wearing Steelers gear. 

I barely knew this guy named George Ducas, decked out in Chargers gear, working out intensely as if he was preparing for the NFL draft. Without hesitation I accepted. 

I wasn’t asked if I had prior playing experience or what my political views were. Skin color didn’t matter or where I was from. I mean, sure, I had a nice tan but I’m sure that didn’t factor in the invitation. 

I remembered the joy of playing football with friends as a young boy living on a farm in Montgomery county. Then, as a 10 year-old having to move to Alaska and playing pick-up games in the snowy streets of Anchorage. 

At 28 years old, I couldn’t wait to get out there and run some routes again. I don’t remember much about the first game I played in the SFL other than everyone was very welcoming and I had a lot of fun.

Fast forward 15 years and The SFL (Sunday Football League) is approaching twenty years of existence. 

Every Sunday from 9:00 to 11:30 friends gather at Centennial Park to play the game they just can’t give up. There is no forced retirement, no “aging” out. If you can compete, you can play. 

Games feature players from ages 20 to 50. Played directly in front of the Parthenon, the 5-on-5 game is played on a 100-yard field under a two-hand touch format, adopting mostly NFL rules. 

Teams are picked prior to the start of each game. You never know who will be on your team from week to week which is great because everyone gets along and has a good time. 

Other than an occasional disagreement on a call or friendly trash talking, it’s extremely fun and great competition. 

There is a strict “three Mississippi” pass rush and there are no running plays allowed. The strategy for me is simple: run good routes, catch the ball on offense and don’t get beat deep on defense. 

Jon “JB” Brown, also a 15-year veteran of the SFL explains, “this is where the old men come to re-live their glory days and the young men come to continue their love of the game.”

I have been lucky to have developed many friendships over the years with guys in the SFL. Sports is not always about the trophies and the titles, it’s about the relationships and the memories. 

If you are like me and still have a passion to play, join us one Sunday at Centennial Park. You’re never too old for sports to have a great impact on your life.

Dave Bonner is the athletic director of the Bellevue Steelers  and regular BSW contributor. The BSW welcomes editorials and articles from its readers.  If you’d like to see your feature appear, write to Mike Hastings at or call 615.891.7722.

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