By Alexandria Moore, For The Miami Student
"Soccer meets sumo wrestling" is the most accurate way to describe Miami's newest intramural sport. Bumber ball, a variation of soccer that originated in New Zealand, will join other eclectic sports like quidditch and battle ship for the spring 2015 intramural season.
"The balls themselves are like giant inflatable bubbles that can be worn comfortably by adjusting the padded harness," according to the official bumper ball website, bumperball.co.nz. "[They] allow you to bump, roll and flip over without any risk of injury."
A single ball can cost as much as $200, though cheaper options may be available for a bulk purchase.
Juniors Connor Moriarty and Matt Watts brought this sport to the Athletic Department's attention after videos began circulating on Facebook, where they saw its popularity steadily growing. Taken with the idea of being one of the first colleges in the country to offer the sport, they looked into what it would take to begin an intramural league.
"We figured if there can be weird sports like [Quidditch] and full-contact sports like football, why can't you do both in one?" said Moriarty. They contacted Ruchelle Dunwoody, director of intramural sports and summer camps, who received the idea well, though with reservations.
"Bumper ball looks fun and interesting, but I am concerned about the safety of the participants," Dunwoody said. This, however, has not entirely dissuaded her. "Our intramural department likes offering new and exciting non-traditional sports."
Students may not share her fears, and word-of-mouth marketing by Moriarty and Watt has been received positively.
"Everyone we've talked to says they'd try it," Watt said. "The most important thing is that it looked fun. Our favorite thing about it is that anyone could participate."
Although the game was designed to modify soccer, many popular games can be tailored to suit the ungainly orbs. Other options include, but certainly are not limited to, Football, King of the Hill (players attempt to knock one person off a pedestal or hill) or President (everyone protects one person from being knocked over).
"At first people think you're joking around," Moriarty said. "Then they start thinking, literally, 'huh, would I play that sport?' And then they go, 'heck yeah.' Everyone we've talked to says they'd play it."
For now, planning is still in preliminary stages. A small number of bumper balls will be purchased for a tournament-style competition, which is hoped to accurately gauge the sport's potential as an intramural sport.
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Moriarty and Watt believe this will be enough to convince Dunwoody and her staff to invest in a larger number of the balls. If so, students can likely expect to see this bouncing, blundering display on the field before the school year is out.