The expression on the Comcast employee’s face was one of amazement—tinged perhaps with envy—as he stepped into our home and surveyed the dining room. An elegant glass chandelier, installed by some previous tenant, hung from the center of the ceiling, though the cable guy’s eyes were fixed on the table below.
“You … just use this room … for foosball?” he asked.
My roommate and I both shrugged. Yeah, we do. We were in our early 20s and had no use for a formal dining area. But we understood a fundamental truth embraced by only the most enlightened of pub owners: Foosball is awesome.
It’s better than ping-pong, a game where even the best volley lasts about 14 seconds and is followed by five minutes of looking under furniture for the ball. Foosball is also better than pool—at least the way I play. That mainly consists of waiting my turn, asking people to remind me again what I’m supposed to hit and realizing that those balls are safely surrounded by the ones I’m absolutely not supposed to hit.
Then I typically strike a glancing blow that causes the cue ball to roll about two inches perpendicular to the motion of my stick. This is inevitably followed by me asking, “Does that count, or should I try again?”
So why is foosball better, you ask? It’s nonstop action for two, three or four people. A player can have no idea what they’re doing and still make great plays out of sheer luck. With time and patience, that same player can develop incredible ball-control—weaving it between the five-man, threading it up to the three-man for the shot on goal—which has literally no other application on earth.
Yet the game gets no respect—not from the International Olympic Committee, not from the NCAA, and certainly not from whatever shadowy cabal runs autocorrect. I know this because, whenever I write the word foosball (mostly in letters to legislators), a little red squiggle appears under it.
My passion for the game started my senior year in high school. Practically every afternoon, I’d head over to my buddy Gia’s house for a game or 12. Gia would go on to play collegiate soccer—or, as I call it, “non-table foosball.” As we played, he’d deliver real-time commentary of our games in a British accent.
There’s actual hard data proving that foosball is good for your health. I mean, I assume there is. After all, I took my son for an exam at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware, and the waiting room had two high-end Tornado foosball tables.
As much as I wish foosball got more respect and tables were easier to find in public places, I also like the game’s underdog status. There’s no slick marketing campaign behind foosball.
Because foos is the real deal. No spin required.