Anatomy of a Whirlyball

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | 5 Comment(s)

While the title may seem dirty, i assure you that whirlyball is fun for the entire non-pregnant family.

This weekend i journeyed to chicago for a friend's bachelor party.  whirlyball was the main course on the menu of fun.

What is whirlyball you ask.  i am SO glad you asked.  Whirlyball combines . . . jai alai, basketball, lacrosse, and mf'n bumper-cars.  yup.  you heard me right. bumper-cars.

the sport takes place on a hockey rink sized floor with a basketball hoop backboard on either side.  The backboards have no basket or netting on them, and instead have a dodge-ball sized hole in the middle of them.  you pass and then fling (using those middle school plastic jai alai scoops) a whiffle-ball through the hole to hit a sensor which registers a score.  Scoring, i found, to be one of the least fun aspects to shoot (pun) for.  Because, you shouldn't forget, you're in bumper cars!!!!  And the speed is just fast enough to really be able to put a lick'n on your friends.  Especially if they dont see you coming.  And so, in teams of 5 or so, you try to get the ball into the hole.  No using your hands -- ever.

Oh, ps, there are no steering wheels on the cars.  Instead, there is a single crank which loosely guides your car through space (you actually do learn how to control it with some accuracy).  To reverse, rotate the crank one time fast, and you go backwards.  Crank it again to go forward.  this may sound annoying, but it become part of the fun, and allows for one handed steering.

So, you are asking yourself, how could this seemingly perfect sport get even more amazingface?

Another great question.  Well, directly next to said Whirlyball rink is a WhirlyBAR!!!! Whirlyball is where you can go to drink and drive.  Hell, being a drunk driver can actually make you BETTER at Whirlyball, where collisions and heckling are encouraged (note: i do not condone drinking in driving outside of licensed Whirlyball facilities).  I would love to tell you how i got super drunk and ran into everyone, but the truth is i was way too busy playing Whirlyball to have time to stop and drink.  I had one beer.  I'm telling you, this game is that fun.  But, my sobriety did not cut down on the amount of running into other people i did.  not at all.  I feel i was a bit of a defensive force (aka. i couldn't shoot for shit).  I was the Dennis Rodman of Whirlyball (minus Carmen and Madonna).   Lock-down defense combined with some pure aggression and crowd pleasing drive-by's and donuts. 

this is me during a combo donut / drive-by.  cant you *FEEL* the aggression?
By the end, i feel i got good enough to see how this could develop into a more organized team sport.  You could see how spreading the court and having people stay back on defense made you a more effective team.  I mean, we didn't do any of that . . . but i saw how it could have developed.

Instead i spent my time trying to pick up speed and then use that speed to ram someone looking the other way.  Kaboom!  If you hit someone hard enough, this white foamy/feathery stuff came flying out of the bumpers, making it look like you knocked the head off their Rock-Em Sock-Em robot.   And if s/he was on your team . . . ?   it happens.   if the hit is good enough, all is forgiven.  Guilt free aggression.  We all need it.

I, naively, thought that all this fun would come with no consequences at all.  Two days later, however, the top of my quads are stones of immobility from being all squished up and counteracting the impact of the cars smashing me.  I hobbled through the airport like a mannequin with my puppet-master gliding above me, gingerly tapping my feet against the linoleum as progressed past the terminal gates.

Upon my return to Massachusetts, spouting stories of this epic new sports craze, i simultaneously lamented its distance away from me, geographically (it is obviously already in my heart).  And then . . . with one quick search on the google . . . i find:  "Welcome to Whirlyball East Coast"!

Did you get the chills too?   and better yet . . . its in CT, only an hour from where i live.  So it guess the only question to ask now is . . . . Who's in?