Before the match, all the players have their eyes taped shut. They quietly cluster together at the edge of the field, shoulder to shoulder, their heads bowed, as if they are checking whether they can see the artificial turf beneath their feet. The coach approaches and they turn their faces and closed eyes toward him in a gesture born of habit and trust. The coach affixes large adhesive bandages over their eyes and then carefully makes sure all the edges are sealed down.
“It must really hurt when it’s torn off their eyelids, eyebrows and eyelashes,” I think, involuntarily frowning. And then I ask, “Why cover up their eyes? They’re blind as it is.”
“Not all of them,” the coach says. “Some of them can distinguish light and dark. And it’s important that everyone be on an even footing out there on the field.”
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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