Passing the
Baton


This winter was, in my humble opinion, better than average. It was cold, we had a couple of heavier snowfalls, but it didn’t stand out as a hellish winter. And we didn’t experience anything close to the ice storm of April 2013. Now, spring has sprung. Temperatures have dropped again, but with a recent streak of warmer weather and sunshine, I’ve pulled out the kubb set quite a few times this month and played at least a dozen games.

Here’s where I’m hoping you’re asking “What is kubb?” because that’s exactly what I hear from 99% of the people I say the word to. I learned of kubb in college, and it instantly became my favorite lawn game due to its simple rules, easy set-up, versatility, and the ability to have a beer in one hand during play. For quite a few years, kubb was still a lawn game to me. Within the last couple months, I’ve started to see it in a different light.

If you look closely around the country, you can see a couple of pockets where kubb is highly popular (i.e. Eau Claire, WI; Des Moines, IA). In these places, this lawn game has developed into sport; there are club teams, tournaments, strategies and practices. There are household names and champions in the crosshairs. I envy this. Although I do consider myself a decent kubb player, I don’t match up to that kind of caliber. Although I covet that skill level, I crave even more the community of kubb players in my hometown. I’ve read and heard the stories of how this game has grown in other regions, but it makes me wonder about the bigger picture: what truly drives the popularization of a sport? And beyond that, what about music or lingo or…anything?

Now, I’m not thinking science here. I don’t care for the beats per minute in pop songs. I’m more curious about the motivation behind spreading the word. For me, it’s a huge joy to explain the game of kubb to people, see the confusion on their face, then take them outside to play and watch as they knock over their first baseline kubb. And later on, they ask if we can play again next time we’re together. It’s cyclical satisfaction.

Of course, there’s also an aspect of belonging. Being on the inside of a growing community of followers (whether that’s fans, players, listeners, believers) is scary and exciting all at once. I can understand why people seek to be early investors in various products and services; there’s the intrigue of not knowing what’s going to happen, as well as the elation when goals are met and profits are made.

Within the next year, I’d like to bring this game to light in my city. This post will be a jumping-off point for an application this fall to U.S. Kubb which will hopefully provide two kubb game sets for outreach and expansion of the player community. Part of my motivation is to offer something new. I’ve seen great success with the growth of ultimate frisbee so far over the last few years, and I know there’s a large number of people who are up for something unique. On the other hand, I’m looking for new opponents because I’m afraid my wife is going to best me soon.

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