Thursday, June 11, 2015

(pt. 2 of 5) 
I’m not old enough to land deep within the “boomer” parameters, but close enough to catch the tail end of some of the childhood remembrances. Like many pre-teen boys, I was a sports fanatic. Football, basketball, and baseball. When it was too dark or cold or rainy to go outside to play the sport of the season, I would turn to sports board games. There were a few that were popular at the time and, at my pleading, my parents were good enough to buy them for me. Video games like Madden Football didn’t exist in those days. Television was for watching TV, the phone was for phone calls, and there were no household computers around. Imagination required. All of these games are designed for two people to play as opponents, but on the occasions when a friend either wasn’t available or was unwelcomed by my parents (odd hours, school night, etc…), I’d play the games by myself.
I’ve included YouTube links and photos because it’s difficult to describe these games with words. I tried my best to do so anyway.

This game also required an electric outlet to light up a lightbulb that was attached underneath a box that, on the top side, had a sliding piece of cardboard under a thick piece of, I dunno, something like thin lampshade material. Anyway, when you pulled the cardboard down, the light would show through the material with a brightness similar to, well, a lit up lampshade. The game came with large cards – only slightly smaller than an 8 1-2x11 piece of paper - that were to be placed over the lampshade material with the sliding cardboard in the “up” position to block the light. There were about a dozen offensive cards and maybe half as many defensive cards. The offensive cards were a dark green (dark enough to block light) with a white line representing a ball carrier running from top to bottom in various paths. A pass was represented by dotted lines with a star at the end of the dotted line indicating where a catch was made. Each card was a different type of play – the “bomb”, quick opener, screen pass, etc. One of these cards was placed on the box face down so the player on defense couldn’t see which play was being run. A defensive card, which had yard markers and was white with eleven little diamond shape objects representing defenders scattered in different spots, was placed face up over the offensive card. When the sliding cardboard was slowly pulled down, the white line of the offensive card would light up over the lightbulb and represent a runner’s progress until he ran into a defender on the defensive card. A little sliding plastic football on the side of the box with sideline markers could be moved after each play to spot the ball. There was a separate sheet of cardboard with spinners for punts and field goals.
The game was actually kind of cool. A play would hardly ever make it to the bottom without hitting a defender though, so sustaining drives was about the only way to punch it in.  After a while I realized the “screen play” was about the most effective against any of the defensive cards, so I would run that play most of the time. But if my opponent used the same strategy, I knew of one defensive card that could be positioned to intercept the screen pass (interceptions occur when a defender touches the star, defenders touching the dotted line represent incomplete passes). When I was really young I wasn’t sharp enough to notice, but as I got older I realized that the wear and tear of continued use had inevitably marked the back of the offensive cards with creases or soda stains.

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