The Greatest Game Never Played

Intramural Grasspicking at Xavier High School

The Greatest Game Never Played

By Tim Brough, Editor

The gridiron grit of the Xavier football team, or the footed finesse of Falcon’s soccer, is rightfully synonymous with athletic excellence in the state of Connecticut. But often overlooked are our extremely competitive intramurals, and while of course baseball and basketball are the most visible of our intramural programs, long neglected is the most cutthroat competition. It has at once been called “the greatest game never played”, and “not even a real thing.” It is more than a sport. It’s intramural Grass-picking. The origins of the storied program lie at a Principal’s Advisory Committee meeting in 2013, when now alumnus Jake Dobaditis facetiously suggested “intramural grasspicking” as an event we should all attend, or something like that. The members of PAC thought this was very funny, but little did we know the true potential held within those words.

As far as I can understand The Intramural Grasspicking League of Xavier (IGLX) lays out the rules as follows: each team has no more than four men on the field at any one time, each team is given 50 sq. feet of field in which to pick their grass, and to win a team must pick 4 pounds of vegetation (measured by a scale at the end of the field), before their competitors. There are no other rules. Let me stress this point again, there are NO other rules. This makes grasspicking, when played between two serious teams, one of the most dangerous sports in the world. The IGLX, a group totaling 100 players over 5 teams, reports 34 concussions, 16 third degree burns, 7 dislocated joints, 3 broken bones, 15 stubbed toes, 20 accidental gorings due to wild animals weighing over 60 pounds, 3 intentional gorings due to wild animals weighing over 60 pounds, 2 broken fingernails and not one player left unscathed. Some attempts at forming a “players union” have been made, mostly to try and ban wild animals weighing over 60 pounds, fire and edged weapons. Progress has been slow, if not stagnant, in civilizing this savagely beautiful contest, and it seems as if grasspicking will stay the most dangerous game for a long time yet.  I sat down with the captains of last year’s championship team, Stephen Bruno and Nick Indorf (of Mormile’s Mowers) to talk about this great uh…activity.

Author’s note: all italics are my later additions, and were not spoken during interviews


Kestrel: Obviously grasspicking is one of the more obscure sports in the Xavier community, can you tell us a little bit about the sport, just for some context?

Nick Indorf: Yeah, our main season is the spring. The Mowers train all year round, and varsity athletes-

K: You have varsity and JV athletes?

NI: Yes. As I was saying, they are expected to attend technical summer camps. You covered most of the rules and regulations (or lack thereof), so there’s not much else to say. We practice 4 days a week, and play our matches Saturday morning.

Stephen Bruno: There’s not much to know, we just pick grass, by any means necessary.


Kestrel: What made you as an athlete interested in joining the IGLX?

NI: I was attracted to grasspicking as a sport because I think it’s so natural. Before I started competitive grasspicking I would often sit in my front lawn for hours in nothing but my underwear, picking up grass and putting it into buckets. Only after my neighbors called the Department of Child Services did my parents realize I needed an outlet for my grasspicking urges. Not to get too cheesy, but I also think picking grass is a great way to get in touch with who you are. As Mufasa said in in Disney’s “The Lion King”, “When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” Your correspondent at this point in time has no idea why antelope are a factor in this discussion, but seeing that the interviewee is in an intense state of emotion, decides to let it go.

SB: Well, I didn’t make the JV lacrosse team, and rowing is too hard and they play weird music, so grasspicking was the obvious choice.


Kestrel: Who are some key players in the upcoming season, and how do the Mowers in comparison to last year’s championship season?

NI: Some important players on our squad this year will be Steve Bruno, Larry Bourland, and me. Larry really surprised everyone with his natural talent, he’s already picking 3 pounds a minute undisturbed, and his stop drop and roll technique has really improved since last season. Our one major setback going into the next season is this new turf field. Games will probably have to be played somewhere in the back, or on international waters to avoid the off-chance of felony.

SB: There’s no doubt that Bourland will be the one to watch this season. His technique is unreal, and he’s only been getting stronger coming off of two recent concussions (playing golf and tennis). I think we have a good chance of winning a championship this coming year, but our weakness coming out of the offseason seems to be our edged weapons work. I bought this training sword online, Mr. Bruno draws from seemingly thin air a rubber hand and a half sword, and brandishes it in a threatening way that makes me fear for the safety of Garrity’s Grazers, so maybe we could use it to get extra practice before the season starts.


Kestrel: Intramural grasspicking at Xavier has been called the “gladiator games of the modern era”, why do you think the administration allows such a dangerous sport to continue to exist?

NI: I think that the administration continues to support the IGLX is because they know that it’s the only real sport left. There’s nothing comparable to the feeling of releasing a 70 pound wolverine on your enemy- er…your fellow athlete, and seeing what that bad boy can do. There’s just nothing like it. To be an intramural grass picker is to be a real man, and that’s all there is to it.

SB: To be honest, I’m really not sure why we’re still a thing. There have been so, so many awful injuries. In the game against “Garrity’s Grazers” I watched Nick set this wolverine on some poor kid and just laugh. That’s the spirit of the game I guess (Stephen gives a nervous laugh and looks around the room to make sure Nick isn’t within hearing distance). Off the record, there’s really no reason why this should still be a sport. I guess we might save the school some gas money for the lawnmowers? Maybe?


By the end of this interview I was deeply unsettled at the thought of a world where intramural grasspicking exists. I am simultaneously disturbed by the thought of 100 students systematically assaulting one another to try and pick up four pounds of grass every spring Saturday, and yet I am intrigued by the unabashed brutality of it all. Maybe Nick is right, and there really is no feeling like setting a wolverine on a fellow student, or maybe Steve is right, and that’s just a really messed up thing to do. As an objective reporter, I feel it’s not my place to decide the fate of this part of the Xavier community, but to all prospective athletes looking for a spring sport: I urge you to explore ALL options before joining one of our intramural grasspicking teams, even if the rowing team has weird music.