If you fix it, they will come; Mac foosball culture

By Daniel Kerwin

The story of the foosball culture in the campus center student lounge would make a great study for those of you who are into anthropology. As recently as two years ago, a thriving community of foosballers would congregate at the foosball table to participate in their after dinner foosball ritual. As the table fell into ruin, the community fell apart. The table is finally repaired, and already two members of the community have returned.

Franz Meyer ’09 and Nick Carpenter ’09 took up foosball as a way to kill time after dinner in the fall of their first year. Other foosballers started showing up at the same time, and soon a community was born.

“People who wouldn’t usually get together got together over the foosball table,” Meyer said.

The community of about ten guys would play doubles, forming rivalries and holding tournaments. According to Carpenter, they would play as much as six hours a week. Then the pieces started to break.

“The players on the table all suffered from wear and tear, some notably more than others,” Henrik Hakonsen’09 said. “The players should have been changed close to two years ago seeing as most of them had several large cracks.”

“Many of our players were paraplegics,” Meyer adds. “It was like ‘oh, there goes another guy.'”

At the peak six players were broken, including the yellow goalie. The table became unplayable, destined to stay that way for over a year.

“It was pretty frustrating trying to get it fixed,” Carpenter said.

“This year the foosball table has at last been fixed, and we can once again drop the ball” Meyer said. “Eventually, Nick and I would like to bring back the culture of the foosball table.”

The wait is on to see how many players will return. The table was only fixed this past week, so it might take a while to see the results.

“I’m sure the table will be put to good use, but I doubt people will start playing as much as they used to,” Hakonsen speculates.

Meyer and Carpenter are trying to kick-start things by planning an imminent tournament, which may draw old doubles partners back together or create new interest in the culture. Even if the former community fails to reassemble, an infusion of new blood could complete the culture’s rejuvination cycle, with Meyer and Carpenter as the elders of the community.

Carpenter has some assimilation tips for those of you who find yourself drawn towards the resurging foosball culture

“Anyone can pick up the game, but generally it’s the cocky players that can throw it down,” Carpenter said.

Along with cockiness, unrelenting confidence is key. Any style of play is accepted, but mindlessly spinning the players is taboo.

“They aren’t that many rules,” Carpenter said. “It’s pretty hard to cheat at foosball.”

It’s all about commitment. Themselves pure novices when entering Mac, Meyer and Carpenter have developed into a solid combo, with Meyer’s unstoppable defense and Carpenter’s relentless offense. Carpenter actually sustained a foosball related elbow injury in his freshman year. Hand injuries are also common when the skin between the thumb and forefinger cracks when slammed into the table. The commitment has paid off for Carpenter, who managed to play to a 2-2 tie in four matches against the Vanderbilt College champion this summer.

Despite the physical sacrifice and long hours players have given to foosball in the past, at Mac it will always remain a way to kick back and socialize with like minded devotees. As long as the table stays in the lounge and the players keep their limbs, foosball will always have its niche in the wide world of Macalester’s diverse sports culture.