Every year, a fine line between party and sport is drawn in sand at Mission Bay, and then it is covered in spilled beer.
The beer bongs taken outnumber the baseball bats brought. Seemingly as many Jell-O shots are slammed as singles are struck. And then there are the hilariously indecent team names, the repeating of which could get this journalist fired.
On Saturday, the 58th annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament begins, and at OTL's heart, 1,300 three-member squads compete in two weekends of competition.
The party-infused event is fittingly held at Fiesta Island, and games start at 7:30 a.m. and end toward nightfall.
Ed Martin, spokesman for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC), which runs the event as a fundraiser, says the competition is intense in the second weekend, but in the first, the tournament is a "carnival."
"Two things are going on at the same time: the sport and the spectacle," Martin said. "The first weekend, you have teams unseeded with a different agenda. Many of them are out to have fun, and they're mostly younger folks, and their level of play isn't anything that'll get them to the second weekend.
"For the spectators, it's summertime. People are out with a happy outlook on life. It's a chance to raise a little hell, to legally have a drink near the water, and listen to the colorful and sometimes disrespectful team names."
The carnival, of course, is controlled.
Last year, OMBAC spent about $43,000 for San Diego Police Department's presence while OMBAC members monitored the crowd, which is expected to easily eclipse 20,000 attendees this weekend and 50,000 including next weekend.
"They're out there in the crowd, and they have identifying characterists that we're aware of," Martin said of the OMBAC volunteer security force. "They're all in radio communicaiton with each other. They have instant access to the police, and the cops are there in a heartbeat. Some people need help mantaining themselves, and they get dealt with promptly and propertly. It's an efficient deal, and it's a fair deal."
OTL admission is free, and patrons are allowed to bring alcohol, as long as it is not stored in a bottle or glass container.
At 7 a.m., free round-trip buses will begin shuttling people to Fiesta Island from three routes.
The South Mission Beach shuttle travels from the west end of the Bonita Cove parking lot on West Mission Bay Drive, opposite the Bahia Hotel, and then travels to Fiesta Island and back with stops along the way.
The second route runs from the Linda Vista Trolley Station parking lot on Friars Road to Fiesta Island and back.
In addition, starting at 10 a.m., the Omshuttle circles Fiesta Island. Park at the Sun Runner lot at the intersection of SeaWorld Dr. and Pacific Highway and walk across the street to catch the shuttle, White said.