Playing Pele in Plastic

Even the gods of foosball—or in this case the Quincy House “foosmasters”—are not omnipotent. They couldn’t get a crowd together for an inspirational viewing last week of Long Shot Kids so things probably don’t look good for group carpal tunnel preventative conditioning or other preparatory measures. This is perhaps because for many, the game of foosball is a relatively benign pastime—a casual, passive outlet to relax on a hectic day. It is not uncommon for a group of people to happen upon a foosball table, play a game or two, and then go on about their business.

But the Quincy House Foosball league would like to change this. “Foosball players are not like any other people,” ‘co-foosmaster’ Paul C. Schultz ’03-’04 says.

Schultz, a Crimson editor, and fellow foosmaster and roommate Paul A. Fili ’04 took charge of the QFL this fall. They have a vision for the future of foosball at Harvard that includes “E.O.F.B.,” or Equal Opportunity Foosball. “It would be great if people who want to play foosball have the opportunity to play foosball,” declares Schultz.

The primary duty of a foosmaster is to organize house-wide tournaments. In the fall, the duties of a foosmaster extend to making sure that Quincy’s tables are in working order—a task that includes replacing broken figurines and lubricating the tables’ metal rods.

Ever altruistic, Schultz and Fili have, on occasion, taken it upon themselves to do what Schultz affectionately dubs “mission work.” The pair ventures out to foosball tables in other Houses, including Kirkland, Lowell and Eliot, working to bring ailing foosball tables up to standards and then waiting to see who comes to play.

According to Fili, however, the Quincy spring tournament is definitely the cornerstone of the organization’s activities.

“A plaque of the winners is posted in Quincy,” Fili says. “There are plaques that are at least seven years old, possibly nine.”

According to the QFL, the real benefits of the game are social. “It’s something that most people in Quincy do,” Fili says. “I’ll meet someone that I don’t know and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ve played foosball with you.’”

The social enrichment extends beyond the table as well. On January 30, the QFL held a screening of the “most inspirational foosball film ever,” Long Shot Kids, starring Leif Garrett, in order to “get everyone ready for the pressure and excitement of spring foosball,” according to an e-mail sent by the QFL to Quincy Open.

QFL Member Gladden J. Pappin ’04 extols the appeal of the sport. “I don’t know if there’s a particular attraction but, once you get good, it’s really fun,” Pappin says. “It’s definitely taken away some time from academic pursuits.”

Both Schultz and Fili issue a challenge to other Houses and the Yard. “As far as foosball is concerned, I don’t think any other house compares to Quincy,” Fili says. “I’m interested to see what other Houses can offer us.”

In a refreshing change from Harvard’s often competitive and exclusive extracurricular scene, Schultz adds that the QFL is “one group that is not worried about having too many people.”

—J.D. Park