To most men his age, football is a hard seat in the stadium or a chair in front of the TV set. But to 47-year-old Dr. Kiyo Tashiro, a busy general practitioner and surgeon in Rome, N. Y., football is an exhilarating, bone-rattling two hours every Saturday playing defensive halfback for the Mohawk Valley Falcons. A 5-foot-10, 190-pound utility man, the doctor plays well enough to earn $20 a game in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I play football because I love it," Dr. Tashiro says. At Harvard, nearly 30 years ago, he was not permitted to play because a job teaching judo made him ineligible for college sports. However, he played with Boston semipro clubs, and later in Cincinnati, where he went to medical school. Since, wherever he has practiced medicine he has "managed to get a game." Four years ago he founded the Falcons. To keep in shape, Dr. Tashiro sprints (left) between office hours. He often makes hospital calls the day of a game, then packs his duffel bag in his tiny apartment (top right), which is mostly taken up by a set of drums Che loves jazz, but plays only at home). He and his pretty, young (21) wife Karin usually arrive at the field early, and she helps him unwind (below) from a hectic week. Then he goes into the clubhouse to dress and joke with vastly younger teammates (right), some only 19, who treat him as just another player named "Doc."
Before a jammed Saturday night crowd of 3,000 in Herkimer, N.Y., the doctor throws a crunching block at hefty, 210-pound enemy lineman Nap Barbosa (above), who once belonged to the Colts. Plays like this, though made in a winning cause (the Falcons beat the Baltimore Broncos this night 26-6), prompt his patients to ask why the doctor takes such risks, and particularly why he is willing to endanger his surgeon's hands. When, they ask, are you going to stop "playing that kid stuff"? "All that business about the hands is a Hollywood myth," says Dr. Tashiro. "I'm in excellent condition. I have more endurance than a lot of the players on the team, many young enough to be my sons. I love the game. I love the fellowship of sports. Why should I stop?"