Not yet sure who the author is, but they are brilliant. This is a beautifully written and hilarious take on the awesomeness that is handball. Enjoy. If you are the author, please click on the Contact Us link above and send me your information, I would like to properly recognize you and get your permission to post this.
My Sport is Better Than Yours
Handball is a moribund sport.
It was popular during the first half of the American century, when there was still an appreciable difference between men and women in this country, when scars and bone bruises were trophies you displayed proudly in the locker room. But the Seventies snuck up on us, and suddenly men were getting perms and manicures and strapping themselves to trees. And inevitably, a handful of make-believe athletes with underdeveloped Y-chromosomes decided to carry racquets into handball courts.
Now racquetball is dying, too. Our latest generation has turned to copyrighted pyramid schemes masquerading as sports — Zumba and Cross Fit and P90X. Or, worse, to simulations of sports: to monitors equipped with motion-sensing cameras, and to plastic remote controls with built-in accelerometers.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my sports analog.
And there aren’t a lot of sports more analog than handball. You pick up a ball and drill it against one or more walls in such a way that your opponent can’t return it. That’s it. No hoops, goals, racquets, nets, or girlish frills. It’s beautiful. It’s primitive. It’s perfect.
I could drone on forever about handball. About its barbarian physicality: how many miles you sprint in a single match, how often you slide and punch and swivel. Or about its calculus: the infinite permutations of angles, spins and trajectories that players compute in real-time as they bank shots across multiple walls or bounce balls off ceilings. Or about the devotion of its players, who, like some obscure cult, gather at a sleepy athletic club every so often to perform their savage rites and commiserate over their thinning ranks before returning to the real world, where no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.
But rather than fill countless pages enumerating the merits of my sport, I think I’ll just denigrate yours. It’s more fun for me, and I know you like the abuse.
Oh, and for a little extra fun, I’ve translated each of your second-rate sports into a sexual experience. Confused? Read on.
Handball vs. Running, Swimming, Biking
I’m lumping running, swimming and biking together into a single category because none of them are sports. They’re obsolete forms of transportation.
Don’t get me wrong. Running and biking are great options for people who fear things like hand-eye coordination. And I’m sure swimming is a therapeutic hobby for geriatrics with bum knees. But these activities aren’t sports.
Think about it. When you run a race, you’re not actually competing against other people. You’re competing against a clock. The other runners are just there for the benefit of the spectators. Put a hundred runners on a hundred separate (but identical) tracks in a hundred different countries and the results would be the same. They each run the race, you record their times, you announce a winner. Hell, it’s not even necessary that the runners all compete on the same day.
If sports were sex, then a marathon would be like thousands of people watching each other masturbate.
Now, hand out crowbars and tire irons and let the runners start breaking each other’s kneecaps… then we might just have a sport on our hands.
Handball vs. Soccer
I’ve got the utmost respect for soccer. It’s a simple, inexpensive game that, like handball, is accessible to people of all ages and from every class of society. It builds lower body coordination in ways that few other athletics do, and it’s far and away the most popular sport in the world.
For all of those reasons, American parents should encourage their children to start playing soccer at an early age, and to keep playing it until they’ve outgrown their stuffed animals and are ready to try a real sport.
Your own children playing soccer? Adorable. But watching strangers kick a ball back and forth for three hours? I’d rather copulate with a chainsaw. The whole sport amounts to an endless string of turnovers. There’s no deliberation, no premeditation; it’s just twenty-two men scampering around in complete chaos, kicking each other in the shins and feigning injuries until — and this part is by no means guaranteed — one of them manages to put the ball into a net. You don’t even care if it’s the other team’s net or his own, because by then you’re so catatonically bored that you’re on your third round of Russian roulette.
If sports were sex, then soccer would be like a twenty-two-way orgy in which no one gets to climax.
Another thing: soccer is all legs. It’s not a full-body sport, as evidenced by the build of its players. Stand a soccer star next to a rugby player and your first impulse is to feed him.
The easiest way to gauge the strenuousness of a sport is to measure the number of calories it burns in a given time period. Fortunately, the big brains over at Harvard published just such a comparison, selections of which I have included below. For your convenience, I’ve listed the sports in order of ascending physical demand, starting with a lawn game for middle-aged drunks and culminating in the most awe-inspiring display of human potential ever performed.
|Sport||Calories Burned in 30 Minutes|
|125 pound person||155 pound person||185 pound person|
|Golf: while carrying clubs||165||205||244|
|Basketball: playing a game||240||298||355|
|Martial Arts: judo, karate, kickbox||300||372||444|
Handball vs. American Football
I love watching football. I don’t believe there’s any sport that’s more breathtakingly methodical, that requires every member of a carefully assembled team — including coaches and coordinators on sidelines and in sky boxes — to perform in flawless harmony in order to pull off plays that were blueprinted, practiced, adjusted, then practiced again for weeks prior to kick-off. It’s exhilarating entertainment.
You’d have to be a complete idiot to actually play it, though. And if you’re not box-of-hair stupid before you start playing football, you will be by the time you’re retired.
Dozens of former NFL players are being posthumously diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Public scrutiny of CTE has become so intense in recent years that football’s governing bodies have installed new helmet-to-helmet tackle bans and other safeguards to protect “defenseless” players, leading critics to opine about the “pussification” of American football.
But if you ask me, it’s preposterous that we’re just now acknowledging that requiring three-hundred pound men to smash their skulls together a few dozen times a week for their entire professional lives might just expose them to neurological damage. That should have been a no-brainer.
If sports were sex, then American football would be like a skillfully directed porno with a compelling plot that stars the most gorgeous, sexually adept people you’ve ever laid eyes on. Then you find out it’s a snuff film.
Handball vs. Basketball
I’m 5’6”, so you’ll have to take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt.
Basketball is a bullshit sport. The fact that it so unabashedly rewards a single hereditary trait makes it a farce, at best… And possibly something much worse. I mean, isn’t there something fundamentally perverse about a game that roots out society’s severest genetic outliers and puts them on display for all the world to ogle? Run this show in reverse and you’ve got midget tossing. And I’m pretty sure no one attending a midget toss is there to appreciate throwing form or admire landing techniques.
Don’t misunderstand: I’m not contending that tall people are, solely by virtue of their height, good at basketball. There are plenty of gangling, uncoordinated giants.
But that basketball rewards certain inborn qualities — and rewards them lavishly – is a fact, with staggering statistical evidence to back it up. For example, consider this disparity: 97.9% of American males are 6’3” or shorter, while 20% of NBA players are. Or this mind-boggling probability: Of all Americans between 20 and 40 years old who are at least 7′ tall, 17% are in the NBA. Go ahead, read that again. It means that if you stumble across a 7′ dude on the street, there’s a 1-in-6 chance he’s playing professional basketball.
Finally, and perhaps most convincingly, there’s the money.
Naysayers can object all they want, but there’s really only two ways to read a chart like this: either taller people are inherently better basketball players, or they’re more lucrative spectacles. Pick your poison.
Maybe all these numbers aren’t really your cup of tea, though. Maybe you’re more of a visual learner. If that’s the case, pay a visit to one of the many Tumblr blogs featuring photos of NBA players standing next to normal people. That ought to put things in perspective.
If sports were sex, then in basketball one of the participants would be a monstrously tall, androgynous WNBA player. And like the WNBA itself, no one wants any part of that.