Dude Wants To Play Human Foosball

I love foosball. I learned to play the game when I was stationed at Thule Air Base in Greenland in the early 80s. Since then, when a foosball table was spotted, I usually ended up there playing anyone that would challenge me. My reflexes aren’t as good now and a bulged disc in my neck has virtually ended my playing days.

I still love foosball and stories about the game. So, it got my attention to see some guys in Argentina come up with a version of human foosball during the pandemic. I have seen versions of human foosball before but they have been nothing more than cheesy ripoffs of the sport but these guys came up with a way to play their game of soccer (futbol) that made sense.

You can read the story and watch a video clip here.

It is a clever way to play soccer without physical contact and risk spreading COVID-19. Could this possibly be a new normal in sports? Contactless sports?

This human foosball game features a field with zones for each player to avoid physical contact. The game, known locally as “metegol humano” divides the field into rectangular zones with while lines limiting where a player can move – helping to enforce social distancing, though limiting slide tackles or pitch-length dribbles with the ball.

This a creative version of human foosball. Other versions have players attached to poles which is a bit much and has been nothing more than an office team building event.

Human Foosball rules are very similar to the game of Foosball and do not have much in common with the soccer game. As mentioned the players are connected to rods so they can only move in one direction, instead of anywhere they like as in real soccer. The ball is served between the two teams in the middle of the pitch.

The players must then try to pass the ball to their teammates and try to score goals. The match is either played up to a certain number of goals, usually 5 or 10. Otherwise, the game can be played for a fixed amount of time, for example, 10 minutes. The team with the most goal is declared the winning team.

I think the Argentine’s have come up with a legit version of human foosball. I like it. If I were younger, I would want to play. Since there is no contact, maybe I could.

There are no plans at this time to form any professional leagues but if the pandemic lingers, there could be more of an opening for this type of sport.

Are eSports A Pandemic Alternative?

A month ago the COVID-19 pandemic caused professional sports leagues to push the pause button or cancel their seasons. Even as politicians talk about the possibility of re-opening the country, there will be a bit of paranoia about gathering in crowds when we come back out to play.

In our world of social distancing, eSports has gained increased attention.

What are eSports?

These are basically video games which are organized in some league or tournament format. The most common video games associated with esports are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, card games, battle royales, and real-time strategy (RTS). Popular esport franchises include League of Legends, Dota, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros., and StarCraft, among many others. Tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championship, Dota 2’s International, the fighting game-specific Evolution Championship Series (EVO) and Intel Extreme Masters are among the most popular in esports. Many other competitions use a series of league play with sponsored teams, such as the Overwatch League.

Even some high school athletic associations are sanctioning eSports as a sport. Georgia, which is one of five states to officially recognize eSports, recently crowned its state champions. With on-campus classes and sports being cancelled, eSports have emerged as the only safe competition for high schools right now.

Even the Nashville Predators have laced up their virtual skates as they are streaming their first round playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights. The series is currently tied at 1-1.

Could this be the pandemic-proof sport of the future?

Although not technically in the category of eSports, the Professional Rapid Online Chess League is an online sport with teams from around the world.

Verizon reported that US domestic peak-hour usage was up 75% in the first week of quarantine – but gaming as a spectator sport is also through the roof. Twitch: Livestream Multiplayer Games & Esports, one the world’s biggest streaming platforms for gamers, is estimated to have grown its audience by up to a third in March alone which attributes the increase to gamers being confined to their homes.

The Simulation Football League (SFL) has had their games televised on Stadium and other cable channels. The SFL features 20 teams from around the world competing in online stadiums. The Alaska Storm recently won their third straight title as the league finished its 12th season.

With sports fans suffering withdrawals due to the pandemic, eSports have an opportunity to capitalize on the current void. It’s difficult to be a spectator of a video game instead of playing it but eSports could use this opportunity to evolve the sport.