American Football

“So do you play baseball in Nigeria?” my friend Ernie asked as he switched lanes. We were heading on I4 to Lakeland to play table tennis.

“No. Cricket’s about the only batting game,” I replied. “Now that’s one game I’ve never understood. Wickets, fielding, batting — I don’t know anything about that stuff. I know the words but not what they are.  Apparently it’s more popular in Commonwealth countries, although I don’t know about Canada.”

“Me neither,” he said.

We’d been discussing sports, which if you know me, is a topic I only handle well when I’m bashing everything other than table tennis.

“How about football?” he asked.


“Rugby? That’s close.”

“Not that I know of. Soccer’s everything.It’s only here it isn’t called football.”

A nasty thought popped in my head just then, and I found myself smiling.

“When I was little there was a game we used to play called American Football,” I said. “It was like soccer, although if the ball passed between your legs, everyone would gather around and beat you up.”

“American football, huh?” he cracked up and I joined him. “That sounds right for some reason.”

“It was a really silly game,” I continued. “I remember we didn’t care much about scoring any goals. We’d run around trying to kick the ball through someone’s legs while trying not to fall victim. It was a really nice game.”

And it was. Even the bullies would let us punch them, and we didn’t hit too hard.

You’d think the bow-legged guys were at a disadvantage, but you couldn’t be more wrong. There was this space between their legs but I don’t recall many instances of any of them getting kolo-ed.

I sometimes wonder if kids still play that game.

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