Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brännboll

I'm learning more about brännboll this week. Baseball is my favorite sport. Brännboll is a Swedish form of baseball.

When I visited Sweden last summer, the Barry Bonds home run chase/steroids story dominated the U.S. sports headlines. On that trip, as a curious sports journalist, I asked a few Swedes if they had an opinion on the Barry Bonds/Major League Baseball steroids scandal. Several Swedes I talked with didn't know who Barry Bonds is and didn't pay much attention to baseball. But several of them loved brännboll and played it as a kid and they filled me in on how to play this uniquely Scandinavian sport.

First of all, brännboll is played without a pitcher. The batter throws the ball up into the air and smacks it. There are no untimed innings. Brännboll is played in timed periods. Gloves are not allowed, everything is done with your bare hands. Hit a home run and you score six points. The game is not decided by runs, it's decided by points.

If you want to see brännboll at its finest, go to Umeå in the north of Sweden. Umeå University hosts Brännbollscupen, The Brännboll World Championship, every May. The university says it's the largest tournament of its kind in the world. Participants can win more than a title. Prizes are also handed out for the most outrageous and creative uniforms, sportsmanship, farce, special effects (which begs the question, what kind of special effects can one dazzle us with in brännboll?) and the best chants and songs from each team's fans.

I would like to have the chance to film a brief documentary on this uniquely Scandinavian sport someday. For now, I've added brännboll to my growing list of things to enjoy on my next trip to Sweden.

(photo courtesy of Bjorn B)

1 comment:

elodie.bonnard said...

Hej!!!
Some weeks ago when was the last evening here in the Youth Club in Ånäset for the youths we also played this brännboll!!! However I don´t really like baseboll but we had fan!