Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I'm happy to see that the US team is neither doing well in, nor US citizens particularly engrossed by, the futbol World Cup. In the Colonel's ranking of sports, futbol (soccer to us gringos and colonists) is relegated to the middle tier alongside hockey, basketball, and golf. The bottom tier includes such unnotables as curling and, well, curling is in a tier all by its lonesome. I have always found something unnerving about the conduct of both a soccer game and the fans at said game, and futbol lacks a dimension possessed by hands-allowed sports.

Unlike the anemic academic abode to which I matriculated for my close approximation of a college education, the high school from which I graduated was first rate. Balboa High School was one of two high schools in the Panama Canal Zone that military dependents and children of civilian employees of the Canal Zone Company attended. In addition to academic excellence prompted by superb teachers, we had the opportunity to share cultures with the children of Panamanian families who could afford the tuition. It was while attending high school with the sons of Panama that I had my first real taste of futbol, and it was bad.

Panamanians are rabid about futbol in the same way we Americans are rabid about football. So, we would take turns playing each other's favorite sport. They would run all over us, scoring goals in rapid fire succession with the round ball, and then we would take out our frustrations in a bruising session with the pointy ended ball. Following each game, there would be a session of fun-making at the expense of the least proficient on each side at futbol and football. I could deliver a strike with a tight spiraling football, but could never master the footwork to control a futbol. So, just as I hate math for my inability to master it, I have no love in my heart for futbol. I wish I could remember the Spanish nickname I got from my Panamanian amigos. I do remember that it loosely translated as "tanglefoot."

If my Rebels have another horrid season like the last two, I may develop a loathing for football, as well.
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