*Archive Page Written some time in the 90's by Jim Massie

Reprinted, with permission, from the Columbus (OHIO) Dispatch

Foos Fighter

Champion player has been getting a kick out of TABLE SOCCER for two decades.

By Jim Massie
Dispatch Accent Reporter

Steve Beine didn't need to see the cast of Friends acting ever-so-cool around a Foosball table to want to play the game.

The Foosball bug bit Beine 20 years before Ross met Rachel or the Fresh Prinee lived in Bel-Air.

"I've played sinee the '70s," said Beine, a sergeant in the Columbus Division of Police's mounted unit. "In the blizzard of '78, I took a Trailways bus from

Columbus to Seattle to play in my first tour-nament. I went with Steve Parker, my part-ner. It took us 51/2 days to get there.

'We were novice-ranked players at the time. We lost that tournament and didn't get into the money. The very next weekend, there was a $10,000 tournament in Eugene, Ore. We won it. So I turned pro after my second tournament.

"Since then I've won at least,one title at every major tournament," Beine said. "I've won pretty much everything on the East Coast."

One of about 20 pro-master players in the world, Beine first tried the table soccer game at a West Side skating rink.

"During the '70s, you saw tables in a lot of different places," he said. "In the early '80s is when the video-game invasion occurred. Pae-Man kind of took the place of any kind of mechanical thing or pool thing."

When Foosball tables began disappearing from bars, Beine and some of his fellow players took matters into their own hands: They bought tables for their homes.

"I have a table in my basement," he said. "There are several players in Columbus who own one. During the lull, we could play each other to stay sharp."

In the past couple of years, places such as the Arlington Cafes 1975 W. Henderson Rd., have found room for Foosball among the pool tables.

Besides gaining television exposure on Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Foosball has received another boost through a more durable generation of tables being built by Tornado Table Sports in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We've had them for about 2'/2 years," said Matt Helm, one of the Arlington Cafe's managers. "There was an interest, and we went out and got them. Enough people are playing now to justify keeping them in."

The cafe has draw-your-own-partner tournaments Saturday and Monday evenings, Helm said.

'The biggest draw is when Beine comes in," he said. "He's top five in the world, he's that good. People like to watch him, and they also like to play against him to see if they can beat him."

Beine keeps sharp by playing in local events.

"I practice maybe an hour a week by myself," he said. "When I'm getting ready to go to a tournament, I practice about 10 hours a week. I'm the only pro-master player in the state of Ohio. So there's really nobody around here at my skill level, but there are some good players.

"The sad part is most people have never seen it played at the level it can be played at. They spin the rods, which is terrible. They'll watch me shoot the ball and say, 'Where did it go?"'

The only way to get better is to play, Beine has learned.

"When I started, most people didn't think I'd be very good," he said. "But I put in a lot of table time and I watched other players. Before long, I just started picking it up. Now I've got my style of play."

While today's tables are better, the game's still the thing.

"'Foosball is like the game of basketball with chess included," Beine said. "It's always changing. The competition is very mental and very physical."

"What keeps bringing me back to it probably sounds kind of weird. It's the last sport in America where anybody ean pay an entry fee and have a chance to be a world champion.

*Archive Page Written some time in the 90's by Jim Massie