GAME ON: City reverses course on OTL under-21 policy
by DAVE SCHWAB
Jul 09, 2014 | 23305 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A player makes an unsuccessful attempt at a diving catch during a previous Over-the-Line World Championship Tournament.                                                                                               Photo by Jim Grant
A player makes an unsuccessful attempt at a diving catch during a previous Over-the-Line World Championship Tournament. Photo by Jim Grant
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The Over-the-Line (OTL) tournament, known for its unpublishable team names, takes the sport seriously but takes time to draw some laughter. The city reversed course on its policy to deny access to the event for those under 21 years of age.                                      Photo by Jim Grant
The Over-the-Line (OTL) tournament, known for its unpublishable team names, takes the sport seriously but takes time to draw some laughter. The city reversed course on its policy to deny access to the event for those under 21 years of age. Photo by Jim Grant
slideshow
The city has done an about-face, rescinding its recently announced policy of excluding under-21 visitors and participants at the 61st annual Old Mission Beach Athletics Club (OMBAC) Over-the-Line (OTL) world championship tournament July 12-13 and July 19-20.

“For the past six decades, Over-the-Line has become part of the fabric of San Diego,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was joined by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith at a news conference last week.

Faulconer said the announcement means “thousands of San Diegans and visitors from across the world will be playing Over-the-Line on the sands of Fiesta Island, just like they have since 1954.”

Last year’s 60th OTL tournament almost didn’t happen when the nonprofit group FreePB.org filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging it was denied a special-event permit for a 14-hour “Leisure Olympics” at Crown Point Shores. FreePB.org alleged the city was showing favoritism by issuing a permit for OTL when FreePB.org’s was denied.

“There was no legal basis for last year’s lawsuit seeking to cancel OTL, and we are prepared to defend the city’s permission for the event again, if necessary,” said Goldsmith. “Over-the-Line is a San Diego tradition that the city welcomes.”

The news of a return to the old rules for OTL was warmly received at The Pennant, a popular South Mission Beach hangout at 2893 Mission Blvd. that has long been associated with the event.

“They threw it all out the window,” said bar owner Dick Kobey of the reversed 21-and-up rule. “It would have been the most stupid thing the city ever did, trying to take the spirit out of the beach.”

Kobey said that denying access to those under 21 to the event “probably would have eliminated about one-quarter of their players.”

Saying there are always a couple of people in any large group who get out of hand, Kobey noted that Fiesta Island is an “isolated area with no residences to negatively impact.”

“Thanks to the City Council and the citizens of San Diego for all of their support in the past, present and future,” said OMBAC’s Jeff Johnson, adding OMBAC “is grateful that a fair and reasonable solution was found to preserve the 61-year tradition that Over-the-Line is to the citizens of San Diego.”

Additionally, city officials said they will explore a change in policy to expand access to other comparable special events that take place on Fiesta Island.

City Councilmembers Ed Harris and Lorie Zapf supported the city’s decision on OTL.

“Granting this special-event permit to OMBAC was the right thing to do,” said District 2 Councilman Harris. “OTL has been a San Diego tradition for 60 years, and I am pleased the spirit of the event will go unchanged this year.”

Zapf, who won the primary race for District 2 in early June, agreed.

“I am pleased the city is allowing the tradition of OTL to continue for the 61st year of this event,” said Zapf. “As the newly elected councilmember [representing the interests of Fiesta Island], I plan on working with city staff and the City Attorney’s Office to revise the special-events policy for Fiesta Island to allow similar special events to go forward there.”

The city’s reversal in policy also appears to be meeting with endorsement by law enforcement.

“The San Diego Police Department has had a longstanding, collaborative and successful relationship with OMBAC,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “We appreciate everything OMBAC has done to ensure the Over-the-Line tournament is enjoyable and safe for all.”
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