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America’s New Sensation: Handball

Handball has been an Olympic sport for years, but this is the first year where the games are actually broadcast and the people of America are falling in love. What is not to love about handball? It is a fast paced and exciting as basketball, as physical as Football, and has the finesse of soccer all in one sport! Unfortunately, the United States were not represented in the Olympics for this sport simply because we were not good enough. All that is about to change! The sport migrated to the United States and got certification on April 30, 2008 and is the only organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Handball Federation (IHF) to lead initiatives in the United States. According to the IHF, team handball is played by 800,000 teams across 183 countries. Since the showing of Handball in this year's Olympics, the buzz around the sport has grown and people are looking to join. What we don't realize is that there are teams all over the nation, and new ones forming, all you have to do is visit Teamusa.org/USA-Team-Handball and find the clubs  near you.

Handball Court, Julian Finney/Getty Images

Before you do that, let me give you some background on Handball. The Best comparison would be water polo, but on land. However, it also encompasses elements of hockey, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. A sport that is played by men and women, it is a 6 on 6 duel, with a goalie, to throw a ball into the opponents goal for a score.  There are wing playing around the key, and a middle person, that is usually a big person that can be really physical.Players can dribble and run with the ball but you only can hold it for a maximum of three seconds. There is a line that all players are not allowed to cross to score a goal, thus you have a lot of people jumping as high and far as they can (before they land) to score a goal. Just like hockey and soccer, there are fouls and penalty shots that are awarded. A regulation game is played with two 30 minute halves with one team timeout per half. The clock rarely stops however.  Most games are high scoring and end with scores over 30 points. The ball is a perfect size for throwing, slightly smaller than a soccer ball and bigger than a tennis ball. The game can be played outdoors but is mostly played indoors on a court 66 by 131 feet and resembles the uniformity of hockey, soccer, and lacrosse.

This game produces a fast paced spectacle of athleticism with exiting shots, complex passes, defensive strategy, and a plethora of jumps! Since the game is so easy to score, defensively its about preventing open shots to the goal. Just like basketball, there are fast breaks, and the high flying scoring reminds you of symbols like Air Jordan as athletes takes flight to score entertaining points. When watching this sport, you won’t be bored as every play is exciting.You may have remember playing team handball before in your gym class, but now it is an international sport that is growing in popularity and in American Culture.

Some of America may mistake the name “Handball” with what we really call racquetball, which is not the same. The sad thing is, America doesn’t know that this sport is available, because we haven’t been in the Olympics for it since the 1996 Olympics, and the only reason we had a team then was because we were the host Nation in Atlanta, GA. In order for this sport to grow, it has to be prominent in the United States. Some prominent members in our sports society are starting to speak out including the NBA’s Russell Westbrook and Dirk Nowitzki, and sports analyst like Scott Van Pelt. They realize how exciting a sport this could be in America, if more people payed attention to it. This sport looks like it built for Americans and investors need to buy in.

So I challenge you to give it a try. For those athletes who couldn’t quite make it in football, basketball, soccer, and lacrosse, this is a great sport to adopt. I have played on a team in the past for a few weeks but never really pursued it. Now I am giving it another shot. As of today, September 2, 2012, I will embark on a Team Handball journey with the DC Diplomats. This feels like a perfect sport for me, and who knows, maybe if we have a Olympic team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, I could be on it! You gotta have goals right!?

This video is for you entertainment, enjoy:

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