Chase StoddenRobert ArnoldUWRT 1101December 7, 2015
Ethnography: Freestyle FootballThe sport is known as soccer in the United States, but in most parts of the world is known as football. Football can be found being played anywhere and by anyone from children to adults, in all different forms and variations of the sport. It is played for many reasons other than for just fun. Some play as a way to get away temporarily from problems and others may play to pass time or to relieve stress. It is said by many that when engaged in the sport, nothing else in the world seems to matter. Football can be played as a team or, believe it or not, as an individual. The individual side of the sport is one that is much different than other forms of the sport and only a ball is needed; it is called freestyle football. One can not fully understand or respect the sport without observing it first hand. To most people freestyle football is simply juggling a soccer ball, but to a member of the freestyle football community it is an art. Before freestyle football became an actual sport in the 20th century, it was just juggling a ball, also known as keepie uppie, and originated over 100 years ago by circus performers, but it evolved. It started being seen more and more in the 1980s and into the 2000s by world known football players at the professional level like Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho. They were seen on television commercials and on the professional stage juggling a ball and throwing in some tricks as they were doing so. The tricks they would do were simply amazing and never seen before; it took the attention of many.Over the past decade or so, the sport has really started to pick up. More tricks have been invented, more people are getting involved, more people are eager to watch, and rules have been established. What are the rules? There are none. There are no limitations to the sport other than how far one will push themselves to be better. Tricks are being created that the founders of freestyle would have never thought of and they are complex! The difficulty of a trick can almost be assumed by just hearing the name and some of the names are hard to believe where others are exactly what they sound like. A trick called a headstall would make one believe that the person performing the trick would stall the ball on their head and that would be correct, but some tricks like the one called new shit leaves one guessing. Most tricks are variations of the basic tricks. For example, an around the world is where the ball is stalled on the foot of the freestyler and then the foot is quickly swung around the ball making sure the ball does not hit the ground and it is one of the most basic tricks to execute, but there are many, many different forms of the trick. The around the world variations could be a Lemmens around the world or could also be a Touzani around the world. Both obviously being much harder to perform than the original trick. Professionals tend to turn something basic into something that looks almost impossible to do. It is almost like taunting the original creator of the trick.One thing about freestyle football had in common with all the other forms of football, and other sports as well, is passion. It drives people to do things that are unheard of and have never been seen. Passion is a motivator and is very easily identifiable when watching freestyle footballers perform and compete. The sport developed because of the passion of others for freestyle, creating tricks and making freestyle football more competitive and increasing the level of difficulty. Without the passion of footballers, freestyle football would not be the sport it is today. There would be no Freestyle Football Federation (F3) or world championships where the best of the best compete for the title of the number one freestyler in the world.With passion comes many hours devoted into the sport and a whole lot of effort. No one is naturally talented enough to the point where practice is not needed. The known all-stars in all sports, whether it be Peyton Manning in the NFL or Travis Pastrana in every sport he attempts, put in tremendous amounts of work and it definitely pays off. With freestyle football, practice focuses on repetition and of course touches on the ball; the more touches the better. When asking a freestyler how much time they put into practice, they responded, I like to get in at least an hour of getting touches on the ball a day. Touches on the ball improves control and composure when attempting tricks, which is a must when participating in the sport. Although freestyle football is an individual sport, many freestylers tend to like to participate in the sport with others. There are benefits to freestyling with others. One benefit being that freestylers like to try to out do one another leading to each freestyler pushing themselves to nail tricks for bragging rights. Repetition is a huge factor in freestyle football. Being able to do a trick once is no big deal, but being able to perform that same trick over and over is what is ideal to a freestyler. When putting everything into a passion, things do not always work out perfectly; even with countless hours of practice. This is when frustration is stumbled upon. Frustration is an odd emotion and is dealt with in all sports. It can make or break, meaning some may perform better when frustrated, but others will be torn apart by it and will lead to even more failures. This is evident on the professional stage as well as on the practice side of things. Another benefit to practicing with others is seen when a fellow freestyler is frustrated. The other freestylers will motivate and help keep chins up, trying to eliminate or lower the frustration. Observing people participating in the sport of freestyle football, frustration seemed to either lead to cursing aloud or punting of the soccer ball. Both of which may be necessary to release some anger. This is not seen as much on the professional side of things, most likely because they are trying to carry themselves professionally for they are professionals, but throughout practice one can definitely believe there is some releasing of frustration. Freestyle football is a unique sport. It is unique in the way that every person who participates in the sport is different. There are not two freestylers in the world who are alike. When observing people freestyle, the immediate differences were the way each freestyler carried themselves and they way he or she moved their body while handling the ball, it is very similar to dancing in a way. Every freestyler has their own style. Freestylers create new tricks as well as come up with variations of old tricks and perform their tricks in combos. This is how an individual style is created or found. A freestylers individual style is a way of self expression and is why freestyle football is an art.