Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Game

So today, we played The Game. The Game is an old Macalester tradition that, to my knowledge, has not been played in at least half a decade. However, after contacting some authorities to make sure I had the rules down, I recruited five skiers (minimum to play is six) and we played at Como (trails were, at least near the parking lot, still in okay shape.

The Game is basically a combination of football, soccer and ultimate frisbee, played on skis. With tackling. The "field" is a rectangular stretch of snow with two end lines demarcated by cones (or ski boots, or whatever) placed about 10 yards apart. There are not necessarily any special boundaries to the field, except for these end lines, although if a team member intentionally kicks or throws the ball far out of bounds, the other team can call for a turnover.

Two teams, on rock skis (no poles) line up at opposite ends of the pitch. One team throws off to the other. The team with the ball (a soccer ball) can then advance the ball by throwing it, soccer-style dribbling it (with their skis/boots) or gliding with the ball. However, you may not skate with the ball. A point/goal is scored when you cross the end line while gliding in control of the ball, or throw the ball to a teammate across the end line (you may not dribble the ball across the line to score a goal). If the ball is advanced beyond the end line—either outside of the markers or not in control (being caught or glided) it is still live, but must cross the end line in the direction of play to count as a goal. The ball is live at all times, except when it is thrown off, when it first must be touched by a member of the opposing team.

Strategies include passing patterns, dribbling the ball and then picking it up and gliding, and long throws to a gliding teammate. Mostly, it devolves in to carnage, but it is a fun way to work on balance, and definitely gets a workout in—everyone was shedding clothing after a few minutes today. With younger (< college-age) kids you might want to eliminate the tackling aspect, but on snow the main thing you are going to break is equipment, not people. Still, it's a good thing to do after the racing season is mostly over. (A version with only passing can be played earlier in the season and is similar to team handball and is less likely to break equipment or result in injuries.)

Game skis are generally short and old, as equipment breakage is a frequent side-effect of The Game. However, it is totally worth it.


  1. The U of M's club plays the game, too--we don't tackle, and instead of an end zone, we have nalgene bottles that must be knocked over by the soccer ball. You can throw the ball at the bottle, or just ski over the bottle holding the ball. If you want to join us, come to the St Paul campus of the U at 4 pm tomorrow (Friday).

  2. Oh, man too late! I need to stay on top of these comments. Would you be at all interested in an intercollegiate Game next week some time (perhaps Monday before the snow melts; I expect the Glacier to hold snow well in to next week. Email me / comment here.

  3. I'll check to see if I can get a game--I pestered them into playing twice this week, so I am doubtful that I can make them play again, especially if it stays at 40. Assume no, unless I can roust up a group, and then I'll let you know.

  4. There's definitely a group that's willing to play on Tuesday. How many people will you bring? I can probably get 6-8. Also, our group is pretty leery about tackling--but we're willing to try the end zone thing for a half.

  5. Tuesday—if there's still snow (Wirth would probably be our option) would probably work. Our van is returned, so I'd have to see, but I bet we could get four or six, which could probably be enough. Let me know.