Friday, January 23, 2009

Gentleman Sport | Racquetball

Joe Sobek, a pro tennis player, gets into handball and suddenly has a revelation. He takes the games of squash, handball and paddleball and combines them into a new sport. So at the Greenwich YMCA in 1950 he put forth into the world the sport of paddle rackets. OK, so Joe wasn’t great at naming sports, but he sure knew how to create them.

Racquetball, as it would eventually be called, is the ideal sport for a gentleman to pick up. The way I see it, there are three main reasons to engage in sport. 1) competition 2) exercise 3) social interaction. Racquetball satisfies all of them with the most balance and efficiency. For instance, it would be nice to play a team sport like baseball. But then you need to coordinate the schedules of a dozen or more people, not to mention the space and equipment requirements. Then there’s casual sports like bowling and golf. They’re highly social and easy to schedule. But they’re not exactly high level aerobic exercise. That leaves us with racquet sports. Tennis is nothing to shake a stick at, but unless you plan on employing a team of chasers, it’s going to get kind of slow. Plus, if you don’t have a court in your back yard, or a really loud speaking voice, it’s not great for mixing in conversation. If you find a squash court somewhere or know anyone who is willing to play handball that speaks English, call me. That leaves us with good old American made racquetball.

My new gym has a racquetball court. My wife, my buddy Ryan and I have been taking full advantage. We broke down and bought brand new racquets. It gets fierce, it moves fast, and you get an hour long sweaty workout without having to become a treadmill zombie or having to commit yourself to a rec league. I feel obligated to warn you that it’s a little dangerous. Protective eye wear is a bit more than suggested. But the best part, as far as I’m concerned is that you occupy a sound proof box. You never have to chase after a ball. And you can enjoy the private conversational benefits of golf, the intensity of basketball and the sophistication of tennis.

Here’s a pretty clear explanation of the rules.

The one big flaw is, like in tennis, there is a lot of room for disputes. But since this is a game for gentlemen, that really shouldn’t be much of a concern.


  1. Great site! and great posts...

    PS. Fletch will surely be up there with Herodotus' "Histories" or Homer's "Iliad" ... a classic

  2. Thank you kindly, good sir.

    Order yourself a bloody mary, steak sandwich and a steak sandwich and charge it to the Underhills.