Five years ago or so, student intern Bob McCarthy came to our magazine office to pick up the recycling. I asked him about his hobbies. One of them blew me away: unicycle football?!
Within a month, Bob stopped coming around. His twin, Jim McCarthy, did the pick-up instead. I asked Jim where his brother was. It turned out Bob couldn’t lift recycling boxes (or anything else). Playing unicycle football, he’d broken both arms.
Ever since then, I’d had a hunch that unicycle football was the craziest sport in America. While working on a story recently for Texas Monthly, I confirmed it.
Chipped bones, torn ligaments, and shredded skin are the norm. When injured, organizer Lee Wallace has even refereed from a wheelchair. “We’ve had dislocated shoulders, broken ribs, broken hands,” the sport’s creator, Marcus Garland, told me. “But we love riding—to get out there and practice and play and party.”
Garland was right—I found the party surrounding unicycle football almost as fascinating as the game. At least 150 people come out to the games, which are played in a parking lot in the college town of San Marcos, Texas. Mohawks and dreadlocks, flannel and spandex, little kids and old folks are all on hand. Everyone even remotely of age—including the players—drinks Lone Star beer or boxed wine from Solo cups. It’s quite the scene.