In the 70s and early 80s, Port Moody was a lot foggier than it is today. Maybe it was pre- global warming or maybe just a few years of unusually warmer inlet air condensing into fog against the cold Port Moody escarpment.
Whatever it was, it was bloody foggy – often for weeks.
At Moody Junior in those days, we had multiple PE classes scheduled each hour. One class would take the gym, one would be in the wrestling room doing combative games. One class would get a counselling class up the ramp in the staff lunchroom.
That left one class to be outside, regardless of weather conditions.
One, very foggy day at Moody Junior, I was doing a touch football unit outside. It was so foggy that you couldn’t see even a short pass.
After trying in vain to complete even the shortest of passes, one team pulled a great sleeper play. In the huddle, one guy shoved the football under his shirt. The other team couldn’t even see the huddle. They broke the huddle and the guy with the football under his shirt split out way wide – unseen and ignored. No one noticed when the centre came up to the line with not a football to snap, but a scrunched up shirt. The quarterback called “hut” and the centre snapped the scrunched up shirt while the guy, way out wide, with the football under his shirt, sauntered down the field, soon out of sight and mind, until he yelled “touchdown” as everyone looked around in confusion.
The resulting hilarity and controversy led to our creating the rules of fog ball.
Two teams – one on each goal line. No one could see anyone. One team had the ball, the other didn’t. On the whistle, the team with the ball would run, walk or saunter, towards the other goal line. Someone had the ball, but everyone pretended to have it. When a defender touched any player, they had to raise their hands to see if a football dropped out. If the team with the ball got it to the other goal line without the ball’s being located, they scored. Kids developed incredibly sophisticated strategies to distract the defensive team and the defensive team developed ways of covering the field and communicating in loudly yelled code to focus their search for the ball.
One strategy involved the ream with the ball all loudly coughing at the same time to mask the sound of their punting the ball over the heads of where they thought the approaching team was, having already deployed speedsters behind the defense to recover the ball, while the rest of their team loudly distracted the other team by running at them sideways and faking handoffs to each other.
Fog ball was an instant hit. It demanded creativity, teamwork and guile, all created by the students, rather than by their over – bearing loudmouth teacher.
Kids woke up around Port Moody hoping the thick fog would hold on until P.E. class.
Classes that were scheduled to be in the gym learning basketball techniques, demanded that we instead go outside in the cold to play fog ball. We had to talk classes into staying in the warm gym when it was their turn.
Fog ball game strategies were planned out in socials and math classes on foggy days.
“OK. You go straight down the sideline right away and get tagged. when they see you don’t have the ball, come back slowly and I’ll give you the ball. Every one else will dash at different intervals as decoys, and you, who have already been frisked can walk to the goal line.”
Kids loved fog ball. They made silly “World Champion Fog Ball” trophies. They brought all manner of clothing that could be wrapped up under shirts as decoys.
The chaos on the fog ball field after the whistle blew seemed to appeal to their wanton teenage rebelliousness. For each five minute play there were no rules and no one had any idea where anyone else was or who had the ball. The score didn’t matter, and devious strategies were celebrated by both teams.
Fog ball was a beauty, and foggy morning pre schools at Moody Junior were punctuated with students, from hallway to smoke pit, animatedly anticipating the days fog ball class.
Amid the teenage angst which permeated much of their young lives, Fog Ball was a release – a non
regulated hoot – outside, in the fresh, cold, foggy, Port Moody air.