Categorized | Global View

Squashing Borders

Americans have imported wonders like Chinese orange chicken, the infamous Macarena dance, and California’s governor. In a country where football and baseball dominate the screens of sports bars, foreign sports are often ignored leaving sports like curling, broomball, and squash which hail from Great Britain and Canada off off of ESPN or ESPN2. These sports are the foundation of many American pastimes, yet are excluded from national television.
But college campuses like ours accept international sports as intramural clubs and sports. Students who do not take an active role in the games, however, understand little about the athletic origins or rules of .
Sophomore nursing major, Carolyn Mergos, when asked to name a rule of broomball replied, “You can’t hit anyone with your broom?” The same question was asked to freshmen nutrition major, Carrie Banner. Banner simply replied with a chuckle and a “no.”
Curling, broomball, and squash have all the essential elements to becoming a popular activity, but just haven’t made the cut in the United States. With lingo like “hog line” or “swingy ice,” how could people not want to tune in to some curling? Broomball is famous for its interesting team names and the history of squash would be enough for anyone to pick up a stick. Is the American public just not ready for these internationally renowned British or Canadian sports to replace the violent arena football blaring from our TV screens?
If so, college campuses are making the first strides in integrating such athletics into our lifestyle. MSU offers these sports as intramural activities. The MSU curling, broomball, and squash clubs all serve as athletic endeavors for students who want a taste of the international sports scenes.
The state of Michigan is actually home to the first American Curling Club. In 1832, men from the heart of Scotland left their homeland to come to America. The Scottish natives found the good life on Orchard Lake, in Oakland County, northwest of Detroit. Orchard Lake became the home of the Orchard Lake Curling Club where the men introduced the sport of curling to the United States.
Curling is foremost a game of etiquette. A curling game always begins with a handshake and the phrase “good curling.” The players then proceed to the ice to line up in their allotted positions. There are four positions in curling: the skip, the vice-skip, the second, and the lead. Similar to baseball innings, curling is played in a series of eight games. Each game ends with a humble victory. To be a successful curling player, one must understand that it is better to lose than win as a cheater.
Andrew Ogden, a member of the MSU Curling Club, began his curling career by watching the Winter Olympics. Ogden has the role of the skipper, who “calls the shots and the weight of the ice.”
Similar to curling, broomball is also played on ice. Broomball originated in Canada in the early 1900s and is played competitively on campuses nationwide. The game involves a lot of padding, skid-free shoes and a broom-like stick. Miami Ohio University currently has 6,000 students involved in the broomball program. Michigan State has 200, but the number of competitors is increasing every semester. Brad Priebe, the creator of the Michigan State Broomball League said, “Ideally we would like to grow to the size of Miami Ohio.”
Priebe began his broomball career as a freshman in Case Hall. A year later, he became a mentor and decided that broomball would be a fun activity for students all over campus. He believes the interest in broomball comes from the fact that anyone— male or female, short or tall— can play.
On April 16, MSU will take the team to Miami Ohio to play in an intercollegiate tournament. MSU and other colleges are taking an obscure Canadian sport and turning it into a competitive event.
Squash is a simple game that has evolved into an Olympic game and an intramural club at here at MSU. The game originated in the Fleet Prison in London. The inmates used rackets to hit a ball against a cell wall. Through time, the sport sailed across the Atlantic and landed in Canada. Then James P. Conover, a headmaster of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire saw a game of squash in Montreal, Canada. Conover thought that the game would be fun for the boys, and today it is played in well over 100 countries.
International sports are fun, exciting, and interesting to watch. Squash, curling and broomball are only a small taste of the variety of sports and activities out there for those interested in trying something new. So the next time that WWE is on and you find yourself half-heartedly watching Kurt Angle wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin, go pick up a broom, find yourself a lake, and play a match of broomball, eh?

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