Not just for video arcades, Foosball has been a staple of bars, restaurants and friendly neighborhood living rooms for the better part of a century. Developed in Western Europe in the early 1900s, the game really took off in America in the 70s – where people could be found spinning their players with reckless abandon on tens of thousands of foosball tables scattered across the land. It remains a wolrdwide pub favorite to this day.
The game itself has remained mostly unchanged for a long time, first appearing in England and then making its way across the pond. Some clever entrepreneur converted them to coin operation shortly after WWII and, by the time the 70s arrived, these games were gobbling quarters at a record pace all around the globe.
Foosball consists of a table representing the soccer pitch with eight horizontal bars running across its width. Each bar has a line of miniature players (made of either plastic or rubber) hanging over the pitch, with handles on one end for the human players to control. Each team controls 4 of the bars, arranged as the goalkeeper at the end of the table, a defense line of two or three foosmen, a midfield row of 4-6 foosmen and an attack line of two to three foosmen. Play begins when the ball is served from a hole on the side of the table or just dropped on the pitch. The players then slide the bars and spin the foosmen to try to get the ball into the opposing side’s goal (a square hole behind the goalkeeper), while defending their own goal.
The game can be played by two players who must control all four of their team’s bars or by four players (or more) handling individual bars. Foosball can be played by complete novices and knowledge of soccer rules is not required. More advanced players are capable of subtle ball passing and trick shots and may follow a complicated set of foosball rules.
There are several professional tournaments with substantial cash prizes all over the world for highly skilled players. Before you run off to enter such a competition you must know that most of them do prohibit the wild spinning of a bar that sends the ball careening into the opponent’s side, which is quite possibly the most fun thing to do in Foosball.
If you have fond recollections of playing this addictive game, we hope you’ll share them in our comments section. Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to all those dedicated foosmen, who despite enduring endless hours of being spun head over heels, still manage to see, let alone kick, that little white ball.