The Electric Commentary

Monday, December 19, 2005


On Saturday night I played Whirlyball. Whirlyball is a "sport" that was invented by drunken Irish carnies on a dare. It's non-stop 5 on 5 action that combines all the best elements of Nascar (that is, the crashes), hockey, basketball, jai-alai, and drinking heavily.

The participants in a game of Whirlyball ride in bumper cars and carry these things. At each end of the court rests a backboard with a sensor in the middle (like you would find on a "dunk tank" game). The object is to fling a wiffleball with your jai-alai scoop and hit the sensor on the backboard, while preventing the opponents from hitting yours. The way in which you play defense is to ram the car of the person with the wiffleball repeatedly. Here's a picture from the official Whirlyball website.

Whirlyball courts are attached to a well stocked sports bar, and drinking is encouraged between periods. Drinking is crucial because it helps to numb the pain. Did I mention the pain?

You've probably noticed that new cars don't have lap-belts anymore, they all have shoulder restraints. If you've ever wondered why that is, Whirlyball will quickly answer that question. A small lap-belt is all that holds you into your bumper car, and every time you have a head on collision, either with someone else or the wall, that lap-belt does a number on your mid-section. The most common Whirlyball injury is definitely "bruised hips." I played on Saturday, 2 days ago, and I still feel like I went three rounds with Andrew Golota.

But Whirlyball is worth some minor hip and stomach pain. It's always fun when you're on the court, it gives you an excuse to be the jerk on the bumper-car ride that you always wanted to be, and you even start to develop some strategy over time. At first everyone follows the ball like a bunch of 8-year-old soccer players, but after a while a few people start to cherry-pick, which results in a few people staying back on defense. The next thing you know, you're playing in actual positions.

So, if you're bored by standard drinking and driving and like the idea of an added challenge, give Whirlyball a try.


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