by Larry Ham
Football season is in full swing, so I was trying to think of someone to interview who would have a unique perspective on what is unquestionably America’s favorite sport. Then it occurred to me – why not interview the one without whom we could not even have a game? No, not the referee. We could play the game without him, although trusting the players to call their own penalties is somewhat akin to asking a four year old to guard the cookie jar.
No, the one indispensable ingredient to any football game is the football itself, so while Reedley College equipment manager Kevin Helmey wasn’t looking, I snuck a ball out of his bag and sat it down for an in depth interview. Well, it’s as in depth as you can expect from something filled with compressed air.
Larry: So, thanks for being here.
Football: You brought me. I had no choice.
Larry: Be that as it may, let’s start with the basics. What exactly are you made of?
Football: Well, in the early days, we were made exclusively of pigskin, which none of us is particularly proud of. But nowadays, we are made of leather, some pigskin and a rubber interior. Oh, and also that irritating little hole they stick the needle in to inflate us.
Larry: Does that hurt when they do that?
Football: Oh, no… it feels wonderful. Wouldn’t you like to get a rabies shot in your stomach every day for the rest of your life? And they wet it with their spit before they stick it in too. That’s disgusting.
Larry: Well, let’s move on. Some people may be a little confused as to why you are called a “ball”. That word implies something round, like a basket ball, or a golf ball. Why are you called a ball? And what shape are you really?
Football: Well, technically speaking, I’m a a prolate spheroid, meaning that my axis of symmetry is longer than my other axis.
Prolate Spheroid: Hey, you asked.
Larry: Why do they call you a football then?
Prolate Spheroid: Would you watch a TV show called “Monday Night Foot-Prolate Spheroid”? Would you like it if your Dad said “Hey son, before dinner, let’s throw the Prolate Spheroid around.”
Larry: Good point. Do you get a little miffed at the Soccer people who insist that they are the actual football players?
Prolate Spheroid: Listen, when you’ve been kicked around as much as I have, you go with the flow. That stuff doesn’t bother me. I just roll with it. But never in a straight line. By the way, you don’t have to keep calling me Prolate Spheroid. My name is Phil.
Larry: Ok, Phil. Your involvement in a football game is in virtually every area. They kick you, they throw you, they carry you. What’s your favorite part?
Phil: I like the stitches on my middle.
Larry: No, I mean, what’s your favorite part of the game?
Phil: Oh, well, I don’t really have a preference. I really don’t like being spiked when I score… I mean when they score a touchdown, but they outlawed that in the College and High School games. What I really hate is when they throw the ball into the stands after a score. I’ve lost some of my best friends that way. But to answer your question, I suppose being carried into the end zone is the best way to go. Anything beats getting kicked right in the gut and flying fifty yards through the air.
Larry: I’ve noticed that some footballs have stripes on them and some don’t. Why is that?
Phil: I’ve noticed that some people have tattoos and some don’t. What’s the point? It’s personal preference.
Larry: You seem bitter.
Phil: Look, pal, you spend your life going back and forth between a canvass bag and a football field, you get yourself kicked all over the place for three hours, and then it’s back to the bag. How would you feel? I barely have five minutes to spend with my girlfriend every day.
Larry: Wait, wait. You have a girlfriend?
Phil: Yeah, I have a girlfriend. Her name is Gwen.
Larry: How did you meet Gwen?
Phil: We were made at the same factory in Guam. We were part of the same production run, so we ended up in the same shipping crate. We’ve been together for three years now.
Larry: What do you and Gwen do for fun?
Phil: We enjoy Tee. Get it? Tee? And we like taking hikes. There’s not much to do, being inanimate objects, so we just basically hang out together.
Larry: Any plans for the future?
Phil: I don’t really plan for the future. I could be stepped on and punctured any time, and then it’s the end of the line for me.
Larry: Well, I guess that wraps it up. Anything else you’d like to add?
Phil: Just remember, guys, without me you’d have nothing to watch on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and you’d probably have to go shopping with your wife. Or worse, you’d have to talk to them about your relationship or something. Ugh.
Larry: Does Gwen know you talk like that?
Phil: None of your business.
My thanks to Phil the Prolate Spheroid for the interview, and my thanks to Kevin Helmey for letting me borrow Phil. He’ll be back in the bag in time for the game, Kevin.
Watch for a Reedley Tigers Football game recap every Monday evening at 7 p.m. beginning September 12.