If you pass the soccer field on Tuesday around 4:00 p.m., you might notice Eric Scott, dressed in an uninhibited amount of green, playing Gaelic football, an ancient Irish game Scott describes as “a mixture of rugby, football, soccer, and hockey.”
“I played it once,” Scott says, because “I wanted to do something really Irishy on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the oldest field sport known to man, even older than soccer. I decided to bring it here because it’s super fun. I figured it’d be a great way to have a positive influence on [people’s perception of] the holiday,” which some only associate with drinking and frivolity.
With his mess of brown hair and crooked smile, Scott eagerly explains why St. Patrick’s Day trumps other, more popular holidays.
“It has leprechauns and rainbows and pots of gold and four-leaf clovers,” he says. “You get to wear green and go crazy and blame it on St. Patrick’s Day and everyone is like, ‘Okay.’ And you get to drink copious amounts of root beer.”
Scott’s fascination with Ireland’s beloved holiday began as a child. When he was four years old, he tried to find a five-leaf clover. One led to another, and he eventually discovered Gaelic football. But kicking a ball around a field and tackling opponents isn’t the only way he’s found to observe the holiday.
“Three years ago, I got to wear lederhosen,” Scott says, describing his most memorable St. Patrick’s Day, “and I had a garland of shamrocks in my hair. I also had buckles on my shoes. They were made of cardboard, but they worked. I got to do a back flip off a bridge [into water]. I was really happy. I didn’t realize when wool gets wet, it smells like poo.”
Scott bemoans America’s lack of enthusiasm for the “supremely underestimated” holiday, but he offers several tips for spreading the spirit of St. Patrick.
“Wear as much green as you can,” he says. “Promote the consumption of alcohol-sounding drinks, namely ginger ale and root beer. Bring mugs everywhere you go and eat Lucky Charms. Plant clover in your neighbor’s yard. Pull handfuls of grass from the ground and throw it into the air so green can rain down like snow.”
Dismissing the American tradition of pinching people not wearing green, Scott recommends a friendlier approach to involving people.
“Just hand them a mug of root beer and say, ‘Sing a song with me,’” he says.
Eventually, though, all the festivities take their toll on this diehard devotee.
“After I experience St. Patrick’s Day [each year], I notice every shade of green everywhere for about two weeks,” Scott says, “and I swear off root beer for about three weeks ‘cause I get sick of it.”
Scott’s fidelity to the Irish holiday, however, doesn’t match his Scottish heritage. How does his family feel about it?
“It’s a sore subject,” he says. “I haven’t talked to my great-grandfather for four years.”
Scott invites anyone to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a round of Gaelic football at the Warrior soccer field on March 17 at 4:00 p.m.