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May 2024

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Illustration of people playing soccer

Illustration: Giorgia Virgili

To have a chance to play in the Tuesday/Thursday afternoon soccer games on Wilbur Field, you’ve got to be on the email list. To get a spot, you’ve got to be one of the first 20 or so to reply.

The goal is to “play the beautiful game”—more passing, less dribbling, with tackling calibrated to the knees of players humbled by past injuries. So it’s been since the mid-1970s, save a 2020 interruption. Many faculty legends have joined in over the years, including neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky. “I’d always joke that we were just part of one of his primate studies,” says longtime game-runner Paul Murray, a Stanford network architect.

Physicist Aharon Kapitulnik has been a regular since 1985, making him the player with the greatest seniority. On the cusp of his 71st birthday, he says his “only problem” is that he has “lost much of the speed and power.” But he’s still quick to sign up. “For me, it is the ultimate form of exercise where I also have fun.” Especially when he scores those headers in the near corner.

Jill Patton, ’03, MA ’04, is the senior editor of Stanford. Email her at

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