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At the recent Masters golf tournament, a great controversey arose having to do with an action by Tiger Woods that was contrary to The Rules of Golf. These rule—-some dating back centuries—are contantly evolving and there are a mess of them. What differentiates golf from other sports is that golfers are bound to call penalties on themselves.

Memory is a strange visitor to the human mind, and what I am describing here date back 65 or 70 years ago. But while the minor details may be clouded or forgotten, the basic story line is still intact. Well, maybe close to that.

Sandlot games, well before Little League came on the scene, were what young kids engaged in back in those days. A sandlot was usually not sandy, it was simply an open space where ball games could be played. If only two guys showed up they played catch, simply tossing a ball back and forth. Any ball. In baseball season any number could play ‘Tickie-Up’, wherein one would toss a ball in the air and then hit it with a bat to one or many “outfield” players. Whoever caught a fly was “Up” and replaced the batter. If the ball was hit on the ground, who ever captured it then waited as the batter laid his bat down in front of himself. The recipient of the ball then had to throw or roll it and try to hit the bat. If he succeeded, he replaced the batter.

With enough players, there would be an actual baseball game, usually fewer than three bases unless there was a big enough group of players.

Likewise, football could be played with at least three players. With three, the center was also the quarterback. He’d say “Hike!” and either run with the ball or throw it to a teammate, who was covered by a lone third player on the other side. The more played, the more it resembled real team football.

However there were derivatives of the standard games. One was what we called “Footsketball.” We hung a peach basket on a tree or wall, and dribbling the ball became more like soccer, needless to say, chasing an erratic target. Once the player got to a certain point, play stopped and he was allowed to try to drop-kick the ball into the basket. For some reason, this never evolved into a professional sport.

Then there was hockey. There was no television of course, and what little we knew about the game came from movie newsreels or magazines. My friend Maury and I tried several times to play on the frozen pond of the estate next to where he lived. We did not have hockey sticks. On the most memorable occasion we got a broom and a wet mop from his mother’s closet. I do not remember what we used for a puck but we would swat it at each other’s goal.

Now there is something in hockey called The Blue Line. I still don’t know what it is for, but even back then it was important. So one day we decided if we were really going to practice we needed one. We found a can of blue paint in the garage and poured a thin stream across the ice somewhere before our designated goals. And then we went at it, in short order smearing the wet paint not only all over the ice, but immersing the mop and broom in blue. His mother was not especially pleased when we sheepishly returned the implements, after unsuccessful attempts at washing the paint off with water.

These were our sporting days. What rules there were came about to suit the players at the time. We rarely had arguments about them except when newcomers would come to participate.

It is my feeling that we have become jaded watching so many sports on the telly or on tailored fields of play for all sports. We need to re-introduce footsketball. It’s just a matter of finding a peach basket.


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