Foosball junkies battle for the championship

WASHINGTON – Around the world, it’s hard to overstate the enthusiasm for soccer. Millions of fans bleed their team’s colors. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that an arcade version of the game remains popular, including here.

This weekend in Jessup, Md., about 150 players gathered around 20 tables for the Maryland State Foosball Championships.

The objective is simple: Kick a hard, golf-size ball through the opponent’s goal by spinning little plastic athletes attached to rotisserie-like rods.

“Somebody says it’s a cross between shish kebabs and soccer,” said Jim Waterman with Maryland Foosball Promotions.

But it’s a little more stressful than eating meat on a stick.

“The intensity is like nothing else,” Waterman said. “You’re head to head with a real opponent. You’re just trying to pass the ball forward to one rod and somebody’s in your face blocking it.”

Players moved about two crowded rooms at a Holiday Inn.

“It can get very intense,” Waterman said. “It’s very addictive to competitive players.”

The rising popularity of video games years ago put a crimp on the demand for foosball.

“Nowadays, you got the kids stuck at home behind the TV screen playing their video games,” Waterman said.

“Bring them back out to the foosball world. Develop some social skills again, learn how to partner up with a team that’s on the same table, learn some communications skills.”

Despite the waning interest in foosball, there is one thing that cannot be denied about this nostalgic game, said Waterman.

“It’s just a blast.”

Interested in foosball, check out Maryland Foosball and its Facebook page or the D.C. area’s foosball page

WTOP’s Brennan Haselton contributed to this report. Follow Brennan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)