Athletic alternatives to traffic and crowds


    The unofficial first weekend of summer is approaching and, while some may choose to spend hours in a car driving 50 miles, only to spend most of the weekend waiting in lines at the shore, there are many reasons to stick around Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend. Two tournaments and a half-marathon top the list, and we’re just getting started.

    Memorial Day weekend brings the first round of summer tournaments and offers great recreational opportunities in Fairmount Park — as a participant or a spectator. Either way, these events are nicely complemented by a cooler of food and drink. Check the league or team websites for times, locations and map links.

    For kicks

    The Philadelphia Falcons host the fifth-annual Liberty Bell Classic Memorial Day weekend tournament this year. This is a friendly coed tournament that has players of all ages, skill levels and sexual orientations, so don’t be intimidated if you want to play. Squads are set based on skills, so grab your water, sunscreen and cleats (if you have them) for some fun in the sun. (Or rain, if it so happens.)

    Registration is from 7-9 p.m. May 25 at Stir. Games are Saturday and Sunday at Pennypack Park. There will be food and fun on Saturday and the awards will be given out on the fields Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

    As an added incentive to sign up to play or even just hang out and make new friends, some Falcons players are going to see the U.S. Women’s National Team take on China on May 27 at PPL Park in Chester. For more information on that game, check out

    Street ball

    The City of Brotherly Love Softball League hosts teams from around the country at its annual Memorial weekend tournament, also called the Liberty Bell Classic. Divisions play at either Edgly or Dairy Fields in Fairmount Park or at Stauffer Fields in Deptford, N.J. So far, there are 32 teams signed up and Philly teams are well represented across the divisions.

    On Saturday night, you’ll probably find some soccer players among the softball players at the Camac Street Block Party, between Locust and Spruce, reliving the glory of the games (or commiserating, depending). The CBLSL annual street party is 7-11 p.m. May 26 and hundreds usually turn out for the event. If you don’t feel like playing (or watching) softball or soccer, come hang out afterward with players and supporters.

    Opening-night party and registration for the softball tournament this year will be held May 25 at ICandy and the closing party and awards ceremonies are May 27 at Fox & Hound, 1501 Spruce St. For details, go to

    Fun(ny) run

    As if two tournaments aren’t enough, Frontrunners have a group running in the annual ODDessy Half Marathon in Fairmount Park. The race begins at 7 a.m. (eek!) May 26 at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, but for athletic supporters like myself, music and fun on the sidelines is good enough and a later arrival is fine. The beer garden opens at 8 a.m. and there’s music and other diversions. Of course one of the highlights of the day is the costume contest, so stick around for that!

    For more information on the race and to register, go to To be part of Team Philadelphia’s running party, contact Bob Szwajkos at [email protected].

    Season finale

    Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League crossed off its semi- and quarter-final games on May 12 and, in the last game of the day, Gangrene knocked Aquamarines off a season-long second-place perch in overtime, sealing the Grene’s spot in the championship game.

    All teams play one final game beginning with the seventh- and eighth-place battle at 8:45 a.m. May 19 at Columbus Playground, 12th and Wharton streets. Playing for the 2012 spring season bragging rights at 11:45 a.m. are Blue Diamond Phillips (13-1) and Gangrene (10-3-1). It’s your last chance to see the players flag it out on the field until this fall, so get out there for a game. Go to for complete details of the season and to keep updated on what’s going on this summer.

    Kudos, also, to GPFFL on its nomination for the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund’s Nonprofit Organization Hero Award. No sports organization has received this before. Good luck, and keep up the great fundraising events! Short stops

    • The Gyphons’ spring season is over, but you can still get your rugby fix in June. The 2012 USA 7’s Collegiate Rugby Championship is June 2-3 at PPL Park. Information is at • The Philadelphia Spartans Wrestling Club is preparing for its annual tournament coming up June 9. More on that next time, and you can go to for details.

    All of these organizations welcome visitors, fans and cheerleaders. Get out of the house, out of your routine and go to a game. Better yet, get out and play!

    To submit information for Get Out and Play, email [email protected].