Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Why do we play Foosball

Newsgroups: Extracted from Larry's reply to FooserX and the "Why we play foosball" threads:

That's what you get for playing in a biker bar in Northglen. Of course, back in the 70's when I first started playing (when I still lived in downtown Chicago and before, thank God, I got the hell out and moved to Colorado), when they still used team names in tournaments, there was a regular doubles team composed of two street gang members, one "Latin King" and one "Disciple" (if that wasn't threatening enough) whose team name was "Kill you for 5 cents."

Anyway, although I think I missed the first replies to the original question, "why do we play this game," most people who know me (or who have read a few of my "Euro-foosin" articles in Table Talk over the last ten years) will already know my answer. Although from time to time I like to say I don't know why I play, because it's really just a dumb game, the truth is I'm in fact obsessed with it.

Sure, I'm no longer an active tour player (I switched primarily to promotions about fifteen years ago), but no matter what, I can't get over the infinite nuances and possibilities the game holds really for anyone, but especially for one who desires its mastery. I've been lucky enough to have played all over the world for more than twenty-five years, on every table imaginable, and yet I can still walk up to a table today, begin to practice control or passing or something like that, and within about five minutes, without even thinking about it consciously, I'll come up with something that I've never done or thought of in that way before. It could be a new feint, a different timing or speed, or a new sequence in a passing series, or any number of things. With this game, the real beauty is that there REALLY ARE NO LIMITS to what you can do. (Okay, I mean within the rules. That's not to say I haven't also witnessed some wonderfully creative cheating as well.)

I've also been lucky enough to have made a lot of great friendships with all kinds of people all around the planet, from Singapore to Kalamazoo, and from some pretty stunning females in California to street gang members in Chicago (and even some stunning female street gang members) and from local bar and game room owners to owners of international amusement distributing companies. And the beauty here is that I met most all of these people, most of whom have treated me better than my own family, solely because of a shared passion for this "dumb game."

As far as bad attitudes and unsportsmanlike conduct, these are individual problems that people have with their own identities. It bothers me only in that it reflects badly on the sport's image. As far as cheaters, I consider cheating by other players a de facto complement to my own skills. If a player cheats to beat me, then he has in essence declared to me, himself, and everyone watching that he cannot beat me in a fair game based on his skill alone. Quad era demonstrata. Unfortunately, getting such people to see, and understand, the error of their ways is like nailing jello to a wall. So, I generally just let it go. For tour events, might as well get an official.

Again, cheating also reflects badly on the sport's image. Most people, outside of the public relations field, have no idea how adversely cheating, bad attitudes, and unsportsmanlike conduct hinder the further promotion, expansion, and sponsorship of foosball as a sport. Then again, who knows--people who conduct themselves in such a manner are often the first to point out that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. Maybe they're right. It just doesn't impress me. I guess I don't win so much as I used to (between not playing and practicing the way I did before, and my often esoteric, artistic approach to the game). When I play I'm no longer there to win so much as to enjoy myself--if I win along the way then that's pretty much a bonus, these days. I often wish more people would strive to see the infinite beauty and possibilities of this game as I do, but you don't have to be seeking ultimate enlightenment to forget about hostilities, to share a good time, and to play your best game. That's what it should all be about anyway.

My extended two cents. Larry Davis (