Saturday, July 25, 2015


PS 194, where I started my formal education--on the corner of Knapp Street and Avenue W--had a schoolyard.  In it was a softball "field' made of cement with the bases darkened in with white; two basketball hoops on the Knapp Street side of the school; and sort of in the middle of the schoolyard were two vertical cement walls. It was on these walls that I played handball.

Later when I went to college I noticed that there was a course called Handball. I did not take it preferring one semester to take a course in running (God knows what possessed me to sign up for an 8am where I had to run two miles every Tuesday and Friday) and another semester--when I was wiser-- I took bowling.  But I looked in on the guys taking handball and this was another game entirely from what I played in Brooklyn. It was in a four wall rectangle and you could bang the ball against any wall. I got the hang of this four walled handball game in later years and then switched to racquet ball which had a similar setting and rules.

I am now at the Pan Am games about to watch the bronze medal match in what is called Handball. What I am looking at  bears no resemblance to my elementary or college school handball games.

I have seen this game when watching the olympics, but never in person anywhere.  The court looks like a basketball court only longer.  At each end is a  net a little larger than a hockey net but smaller than a soccer goal.  The object of the game is to advance the ball and then slam it into the net past a goaltender.

Right now both teams are doing their calisthenics and it looks like a Rockettes choreographed routine. The team in red, Chile, is advancing en masse to the half court line kicking this way and taht and then retreating. Uruguay in white is doing something I can't adequately describe kicking their legs peculiarly. The ball looks like the kind of basketball you buy for your five year old.  I think you have to bounce it to advance, but am not sure. I don't think I would want to be a goalie for this game. I see no equipment. Uruguay and Peru are in gym shorts and tees.

Having played a bunch of games in my youth, ring o leevio, johnny on the poney, catcha flier's up--it--spud, barrelball, and variations of kick the can I know more than the average bear about games, but this one I cannot tell the reader anything.  Next door they are playing volleyball, that I know. On the other side racquetball, that I know, but it will be two hours before I can report on this phenomenon.

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