Pits of foam blocks are a useful way for gymnasts to practice landings, but they can be difficult to get out of. That’s perhaps especially true if you’re a 6’7”, 397-pound football player, as BYU defensive lineman Motekiai Langi found out recently. This happened last month when Langi and other members of the BYU football team were invited to BYU’s gymnastics practice, part of the gym team’s ongoing efforts to bring other sports teams in and have them heckle the athletes to help them prepare for competitions, and SB Nation’s Jason Kirk brought it to a wider audience Monday.
It led to some great quotes from BYU gymnastics coach Guard Young, senior gymnast Jill van Mierlo and Langi himself to Jared Lloyd of the (Provo-based) Daily Herald:
““We all thought it was pretty funny until we realized we couldn’t get him out,” Young said. “Then I was like, seriously, how do you get someone like that out of the foam pit? We got him out, but it took some effort and some football players to help. Thankfully I didn’t get a phone call from (head football coach Kalani Sitake) about it. We kept him safe.”
…“It was hilarious,” van Mierlo said. “He struggled to get out because it sucks you in. It was definitely a sight.”
…“It sucked me down,” Langi said. “It took me a couple of minutes before I was finally able to get out.”
…“The other guys were making fun of me when I was down in there but it was all good laughs,” Langi said.
Fortunately, some of those other football players were able to haul Langi out. But there were some ongoing consequences; his socks came off in the pit, and were not found. So BYU’s gym team now has their foam pit contaminated by dirty socks from an almost 400-pound football player. He did apologize for that, though, saying “I feel bad for those gymnasts. They’ll find them and be like, ‘Whose socks are these?'”
While this may seem like a pretty absurd situation, Kirk notes it’s far from uncommon for people larger and/or less athletically inclined than gymnasts to have some issues getting out of a foam pit:
The foam pit isn’t easy to get out of, especially if you’re larger than most gymnasts. At children’s birthday parties and so forth, I’ve often found myself among the goofballs jumping into the foam pit, only to regret it while having to claw back out. More than once, I’ve thought, “this is exhausting, so maybe I’ll just stop, have food delivered to me, and just wait until I die in this itchy quicksand.”
There’s a strategy that kind of involves climbing light, like you’re attempting to swim/roll over the foam blocks and avoid sinking any further as you go, but it only kind of works, unless you’re small. If you’re small, then you just soar right out like a dragonfly.
Langi is definitely not small, though, so that didn’t work out for him. There’s no video of this, but imagine something like this, only with a much bigger man:
“I did not think this one through.” Yes indeed. Fortunately for Langi, he’ll soon be back to the football field, where his size is an asset rather than a liability.