Friday, May 27, 2016

LearnNBlog #6: American Handball

American Handball – a sport in which players use their hands to hit a ball against a wall. Similar to Squash but with no racquets. Also referred to as “Hand Tennis” or “Hand Squash” and bears no resemblance to the Olympic sport of Handball (as is usually the case with most things having “American” prefixed to them).

The basic aim of the game is to ensure that a player hits the ball back on to the ball before it can bounce twice on the ground. And the first bounce back from the ball should be within the prescribed court boundaries. The only equipment needed is rubber ball, usually blue in colour and referred to as simply the blueball. The scoring is simple with lengths of the games varying from 11 to 15 to 21 points.

First accounts of the game appear in 15th century Scotland. There the game moved to Ireland. Irish immigrants took the game along with them to USA where it flourished in schools and colleges. It's a popular game in the USA but is fairly unknown outside the country (with a few exceptions). National handball championship have been organised since 1919. The game is played in singles and doubles format.

So how come "American Handball" arrived on this blog? Well, because I have played it in school. As per one of the articles, my alma mater, Loyola School, Jamshedpur, has the only handball courts in the whole of the Indian sub-continent. A legacy from the American priests who started the school. Also explains why I have never met anyone else who has even heard about this form of handball or seen the blueball. The games were frenetic. There was a fast and furious race to take over the four courts during the breaks and just after school hours. There would be usually be a big crowd around the playing area keeping score, so that their turn came faster. The large crowd ensured that line call disputes were resolved easily. Games were mostly doubles (to accommodate more students), but have been involved in a double court 4-a-side bash also (Played across 2 adjacent courts together).  The walls of the courts even had their own graffiti. It certainly was one fun event.

And, we called it handball. After all it was our game!!!

The Loyola, Jamshedpur Handball Courts

The Blueball
Other Readings
American Handball (Wikipedia)
Five of the most Interesting Handball Courts in the World (WPHLive)
Handball, United States (Book Extract - Sports Around the World: History, Culture & Practice)
Handball - the 'Corny' Game (Loyola School, Jamshedpur)
The Five Places (Nishantzworld)

Previously on LearnNBlog - Olympic Quota Place

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