Wiffle Hurling

Any game that fields thirty players with wooden sticks and helmets is okay in my book.  Hurling is an ancient Gaelic sport (perhaps the world’s oldest field game) that has reached far beyond the enchanted fields of Ireland, cropping up in Europe and the Americas over the past four hundred years.  Essentially like the Native American sport of lacrosse, hurling’s objective is to score as many goals as possible by using hurleys (wooden sticks) to push the sliotar (ball) between the goalposts or over the crossbar.  Hurling is such an old sport that many argue that Scottish-made golf is just a slightly-altered version of the Irish game.

The sport of hurling might not be that prominent stateside, but over in Ireland, it is a normal pastime.  Thousands of spectators show up annually for the Hurling Championships in Ireland, which fields thirty-six teams during its duration.  Hurling organizations have been striving to have it included as an official Olympic sport for years now, and the game does seem to fit the bill for what constitutes an international competitive endeavor – I mean, even lacrosse appeared in the 1940 games.  Its American-made little brother, however, will probably not be gracing the arenas of London or Rio de Janeiro.

Wiffle Hurling is, basically, the game of hurling but with wiffle bats and balls.  Created by artist Tom Russotti, the sport consists of two teams of around six players, attempting to score goals, with the use of their bats and a regulation softball-style wiffle ball, over the course of sixty minutes.  Typically played on a soccer field, wiffle hurling borrows greatly from that sport as well, implementing “corner throws” and “free throws” for fouls and boundary violations.  The game even has contingency plans for ties, with the first being sudden death then followed by penalty shootouts.

Wiffle Hurling might not remain a such an odd sport for long.  With mentions in the New York Times and Obscure Sports Magazine, you might soon be seeing wiffle hurling leagues popping up in your hometown.  And if you live in Chicago, New York, or California, just look around: there are leagues waiting for new hurlers to join the fold.

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