Sigma Pi brings back football to campus


It has been well over fifty years since the University of Detroit witnessed its own Division 1 football team take the field on its own campus.

1964 was the team’s final season, and, despite occasional rumors to the contrary, there are no plans of a Titan team returning to the gridiron.

But the love for the game remains in many students’ hearts as they follow other collegiate and professional football teams, a fact that one Detroit Mercy fraternity looked to utilize well.

Sigma Pi held (and won) its first annual Emerald Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 3, a seven-on-seven flag football tournament fundraiser with proceeds going towards the fraternity itself.

“We hope to grow a little each year,” sophomore Sigma Pi brother Frank Doud said before the event.

For $50, students and faculty could create their team of up to ten players and compete against others for the top spot on campus.

The event certainly required more space and endurance than your typical ice cream social in the common area, but Doud said it had a similar goal: for students to get to know people and to have a new and exciting thing to do on campus.

Sigma Pi encouraged freshmen to join a team because many of them arrive straight from high schools where they either played for or cheered for their own football teams.

But the game doesn’t look like the typical Friday night football contest.

Seven-on-seven flag football has no helmets, no pads and no tackling.

Team formations and strategies are a skeleton of what a normal football playbook might look like and ball carriers are down when their flags are pulled from their waist bands.

The nature of the game favors the pass.

“I miss football a lot, not all the practicing so much. But I miss playing on our field with our student section cheering for us,” said Maxx Martin prior to the tournament.

He played four years of football at Utica Ford High School in Sterling Heights.

Those officiating the game also were students and faculty at Detroit Mercy.

To join the event, each team was required to have at least one member attend a referee class a day before the event and be prepared to officiate at least one game.

“It’s what we got to do,” said sophomore Joe Lifshay, one of the main coordinators behind the event. “It’s another way for people to get involved.”

Sigma Pi had a team in the tournament, but the real prize members said is being able to establish a tradition that hopefully will catch on throughout the campus, attracting even those not interested in the sport.

“I’m not a big football fan,” said junior Nicole Gebara before the event. “But I would love to just play and be there with my friends.”

Doud credited “a lot of my brothers who worked hard to get this event to happen.”