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Foosball players roll in Colorado Springs

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Curtis Mason leans back in his chair and makes his pitch.

"I truly believe foosball is the fastest sport in the world," he says.

Stop that chuckling right there, and hear him out: The best players hit the ball 30 to 40 mph, off wooden men, bars and walls, all inside a game table less than 3 feet long. When the ball drops into a goal, Mason says, spectators often have no idea which little guy booted it, or how it got there.

Wait, there are spectators? And this really is considered a sport?

Well, check out the Rocky Mountain State Games, which includes foosball among the 29 sports featured this weekend.

A foosball pro ranked in the world's Top 300, Mason will compete in the open singles and open doubles foosball tournaments. And though world No. 3 Robert Mares and a couple of Colorado's other top players will be at a tournament in Kentucky, Mason will be joined by some big names, including world No. 29 Garret Scherkenbach.

All of which brings about the next question: Do these rankings mean that Colorado is something of a foosball epicenter?

"They used to call us "The Colorado Boys,' says Mason, a 30-year veteran who lives in Manitou Springs. "Players who knew you were from Colorado would try harder ... or they'd roll over and die."

Mason credits Todd Loffredo of Aurora, arguably the best player ever to twist a set of controls, as inspiration to a generation of younger Coloradans. While the salad days of 1970s foosball parlors ("probably seven to 10 in Colorado Springs") have long since expired, the sport retains a nimble-wristed, strategy-happy following.

One reality is sadly predictable, however. "If you're not one of the Top 5 or 10 players in the world," Mason says with a grin, "you're not going to make a living playing foosball."


capsule

The 2006 Rocky Mountain State Games

Various locations in Colorado Springs and Denver

Friday, Aug. 4, through

Sunday, Aug. 6

Admission to most events is free; visit thesportscorp.org/rmsg for details.

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