I got up at 3:30 a.m. this morning, I couldn’t sleep. I went to the kitchen and made coffee which I carried to my office and set on my desk. I fired up the computer and glanced to my left. Bill the Cat was doing his best to lick some coffee doused with Irish sweet cream out of my cup. It was much too hot, and he turned his head away. Suddenly, he turned back to me and his eyes popped open, an indication my dead dog was calling me from the canine afterlife.
“Hey Em,” He said cheerfully, “I wanna talk about balls.”
“Listen Bob, I’ve already explained to you about why you lost your balls, don’t make me go through it again.”
“You don’t have to, my balls are gone, and I understand why. No, this time I want to talk about ball games—games played with balls.:
“What kind of balls, I don’t want to get into testicle tossing,” I said with finality.
“No, I was thinking about that big football game your countrymen played last Sunday. You know, the Super Bowl. Although the game is American football, football is what you call soccer and the rest of the world calls football. Football (soccer) is the most popular game in in the world. With American football coming in a distant second. Oh, and American football is not a ball; it is a spheroid with wonky ends. Why do you think that is?”
I had to think. “Well, most countries that play soccer are pussies. They run around a huge field dressed in short pants, a t-shirt, and some socks and shoes. Each team has about 1,000 players who can’t touch the ball with their hands so they scamper around kicking a round ball. Only 11 people can touch the ball and the rest must wave their hands and yell ‘here’. Given a chance, American football would kick soccer’s ass in popularity because there is violence in the American game. People love violence, even the French.”
“You’re right about violence on the field, but soccer hooligans in the stands explode in violence, sometimes taking down whole stadiums. At the end of an exciting game with scores such as 2 to 1, the officials weigh the amount of blood lost by each team’s hooligans, and the team who lost the least blood wins.”
“I don’t want to quibble about soccer and football, what else you got with balls.”
“OK,” said Bob, “I am going to give you some prime examples, most of them are real. Let’s start off with ‘Irish Road Bowling’.”
‘This is obviously one of your made-up ball games.”
“Don’t’ be so quick to judge marmot face. Here, straight from Wikipdeia: ‘Road bowling (Irish: Ból an bhóthair) (also bullets or long bullets in Armagh) is an Irish sport in which competitors attempt to take the fewest throws to propel a metal ball along a predetermined course of country roads. The sport originated in Ireland and is mainly played in Counties Armagh and Cork.
Spectators often bet on the outcome and proffer advice to their favored competitor during a match or “score.”. Road bowling in Ireland is governed by the voluntary Irish Road Bowling Association (Irish: Ból Chumann na hÉireann). The 2016 All-Ireland Series will take place in Madden, County Armagh.’ I think drinking copious amounts of whiskey is allowed.”
“OK, fine,” I said a little wounded. “The game doesn’t sound too great except to Irish alcoholics. Give me another one.”
“How about Canoe Polo.?
“Hardly, check out this: ‘Canoe polo, also known as Kayak polo, is one of the competitive disciplines of canoeing, known simply as “polo” by its aficionados. Polo combines canoeing and ball handling skills with an exciting contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed and fitness of the individual athletes.”
“It sounds like it could be real, so I’ll let it slide.”
“You’re gonna like this one, Football Tennis. ‘Footballtennis, also known as futnet (in Czech and Slovak nohejbal) is a sport originating in the 1920s in Czechoslovakia. It is a ball game that can be played indoors or outdoors in a court divided by a low net with two opposing teams (one, two or three players) who try to score a point hitting the ball with any part of their body except for the hands and making it bounce in the opponent’s area in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for the other team to return it over the net.’”
“Now I know this one is bullshit, Czechoslovakia doesn’t have any sports that don’t involve guns.”
“How wrong you are. OK, I got a couple more. Zepher 7 is a ball sport out of Russia. Each Seven-man team lines up about 15 yards apart and hurls billiard ball at each others’ crotch. Although protected by resin ‘cups,’ the onslaught of balls hitting their marks exacts a toll on the players, and they eventually fall to the ground in agony. The winning team is the one that has the ‘last man standing.’”
“Hmmm, this sounds like it’s’ true. I mean Russian trying to crack crotches seems reasonable for that country.”
“Aha, you idiot. False!
“Bob, this is getting tedious, let’s finish it,”
“Alright, how about Klootschieten?”
“I don’t know, it sounds like bull, but I’m gonna say it’s real.”
“And you’d be right. ‘ Klootschieten (“Ball shooting” in English) is a sport in the Netherlands and East Frisia, Germany. In the game, participants try to throw a ball (the kloot) as far as they can. It is most popular in the eastern regions of Twente and Achterhoek.”
“OK Bob, you’ve impressed me with your superior knowledge of ball games. But, let me ask you one—Elk Splints.”
“Easy, it’s bogus.”
“No, it’s a Canadian game of wrestling elk while the elk bounces a rubber ball between its antler for three minutes. If the elk wins, he can snap the human’s shin bones. If the elk loses…well, the elk never loses.”
‘Now Bob, that was fun, but I’ve got to work on a story about Valentine’s Day.”
“Oh Wow, I’ve got some great info about the day for lovers.”
“I’m sure you do, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow.”