The road to hell is paved with soccer balls


Richard Swanson sorta had a dream. Who’s to say it was not as noble as Martin Luther King’s?


Swanson had a dream of soccer…or more specifically, soccer balls. He wanted to bring soccer balls to the world’s poor, and he landed in a Berkeley, California, charity whose specific goal was exactly this. Called the One World Futbol Project, the company’s primary aim is to donate durable soccer balls to developing countries. That’s noble. I can certainly think of worse things, OK?


Well, in a bid to promote the worldwide soccer ball fund, Swanson set out on a 10,000-mile trek which was set to begin in his hometown of Seattle, and conclude thousands, maybe millions, of dribbles later in São Paulo, Brazil, in time for the 2014 World Cup there.


Richard Swanson was a kind man with a generous heart, but his journey was cut tragically short near Lincoln City, Oregon, as he dribbled his soccer ball along the 101 highway, when he was struck by a pick-up truck. When I saw the headline, I assumed he had been hit by some wild, out-of-control driver in a little Latin American shithole. Little did I expect this would have happened just a few hundred miles into his journey in the vast terrain of Oregon’s Pacific region.






Richard Swanson




Police in Lincoln City, Oregon, said 42-year-old Richard Swanson was hit at about 10am on Tuesday while walking south along US highway 101 near the city limits. He was declared dead at a local hospital. The driver has not been charged.


Lieutenant Jerry Palmer said investigators found materials among Swanson’s things listing his website, Swanson set out on the trek to promote the One World Futbol Project, based in Berkeley, California, which donates durable soccer balls to people in developing countries. The company did not immediately respond to a call for comment.


Police said Palmer’s soccer ball was recovered.




In a fitting darkly-noted conclusion to this oddity, we are comforted that Swanson’s soccer ball was recovered. Goddamned soccer balls, his downfall. Soccer balls everywhere, his siren. Soccer balls for the world’s poor, soccer balls dribbling for 10,000 miles, Goddamned durable soccer balls!


Swanson was a good man but that is a deadly thing sometimes. I am a cynical, bitter man. I am a firm believer that no good deed goes unpunished, and furthermore, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions (or soccer balls, in this case). I believe this is such a cynical, caustic world that any attempt to achieve grace, albeit moral purity, is invariably greeted with a harsh round of whoopass and fatalistic denunciations.


Virtuosity is dead. RIP, Mr. Swanson!