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Beach Wheelchair

Walking along the beach, seeing all those people at play, the kids, the old people, the flat-bellied beauties, you don't really think about how unfriendly the beach can be. Not if you're walking. But if you're on a wheel chair, you do, you most definitely do. Because rolling a wheelchair across the sand is like impossible. Unless you happen to own an electric Beach Cruzr® with special balloon tires, like the one invented by Hank Weseman.

Hank's invented several different kinds of all-terrain wheelchairs and boat dollys and beach carts. All based on these special balloon tires and Hank's refusal to be limited by the accident he had when driving in the National Jet Boat Association’s professional drag boat racing event - an accident that damaged his brain stem and put him in a coma for a week and on life support for a month.

Thing is, these are very cool toys. For the people that have to have them, they're a blessing, of course. And for people on the beach, they're a vehicle to extend the community a little further, to share the sand and surf and sun with more of the human garden. And for any of us who like to think about fun and imagine the kinds of games and sports we could play on these things, all up and down the beach, all the way into the surf, even, well, Hank's Beach Wheelchairs and carts and dollys are just about just as much a gift as they are to those who really need them.


In answer to the question: "What're the main differences between Zhubál and 4-square?" Andrew Carpenter, Zhubál Commissioner, replies:
"Well besides the fact that if you call if '4 Square' during a tournament you get penalized, Zhubál is much different. The only similarity is the Grid and a ball. During a research period, we found that 4-Square is based upon hitting a ball TO someone and hoping for a error. Zhubál is based on a philosophy similar to Tennis and Volleyball. Hit it where someone can't hit it back.

Zhubál is a game about adapting to your environment. Respect for the Rules and fair play are at the core of its essence. Those who have no respect for the rules have no respect for the game. There are only 2 ways to learn to play Zhubál.

1: Read the Zhubál Instructional Compendium at www.zhubal.com


2: Negative Reinforcement: Zhubál is built for Adults.... 4 Square is for Kindergarten Kids."
Reading through the Instructional Compendium resolved all my issues about its 4-square-likeness (though knowing how kids play 4-square is very useful for the novice Zhubállist). For me, the most significant and welcome difference is the wholesale adoption of the idea of the "Spirit of the Game" as so well-voiced by the Ultimate Players' Association:
"2. Spirit of the Game

Zhubál relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the players. Referees are not necessary due to the high integrity that the players exhibit in the use and recognition of the rules. Highly competitive play is required, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play. Such actions as taunting of opposing players are allowed but never to the degree of harshness. All 'good' play needs to be respected and rewarded by all players and with a high degree of appreciation."
Yes, and again, yes. New games, like Zhubál, are constantly needed, because they are invitations to play. Sports may pay their players millions of dollars, but if that comes at the expense of fun, it's just not worth it. For anyone.

Beach Tennis and Baggyball

Beach Tennis? But, of course. Kinda like beach volleyball, because it's played on beach volleyball court. Even more like badminton, except you play it with tennis racquets and ball. Apparently, Beach Tennis started in Latin America and vicinity. Like on the lovely but, synchronistically unfortunate island of ill-repute, Aruba.

If you're over 16 (apparently, something untoward happens when you reach level 5 that makes it inappropriate for the younger set), you can even play it online (uses arrow keys and space bar).

One visit to the Beach Tennis websites, especially the highly polished Beach Tennis USA site, makes you realize how seriously some people are taking this patently junkyardly sport - serious enough to do what is necessary to earn a write-up in USA Today.

Which leaves us with this question: what makes a junkyard-like sport get transformed into a "serious" one? Clearly, Beach Tennis was born out of a spirit of playfulness - the same kind of rule transforming playfulness that gave birth to Baggyball. What makes Beach Tennis a "real" sport, and Baggyball remain Junkyard?

My guess: it's all about how much it gets played. Which is all about how much fun it is for how many people. Until, finally, it gets to be all about money. And that's about all.

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