The Joy of Bocce Weekly
The FREE weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume #1, Issue #6    February 11, 2002
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni   Copyright 2002 The Joy of Bocce

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Note:, the email list publisher that manages this Ezine, is introducing a new format that, in a few weeks, will allow me to publish in HTML format complete with text and art work.  So, this will add a little pizzazz to the newsletter and might correct the problems that some readers are experiencing with links.

In This Issue

* Bocce quote of the week
* Variations of the game - backboard dead?
* Oh, the language we use
* Bocce & Special Olympics World Games - Part II
* Arthritis/Joint Pain Slowing Your Game?


Bocce quote of the week

We are constantly looking for "new blood" for our Monday morning bocce sessions here in Massachusetts. Specifically, we are trying to attract younger players.  Most of us are retirees. Recently, we've added some twenty- and thirty-year-olds to the fold. We play three games, and enjoy coffee and pastry between matches.  After the first game, 86 year-old Del Bracci, a former National Super Senior Downhill Ski champ said "Nice game... time for an intermission."  One of the young pups, an athletic, energetic type and first-time bocce player chimed in with, "For crying out loud - the entire game's an intermission!"  Okay, bocce might not be a cardiovascular workout.  But the pastime's gentle exercise, friendly competition, and camaraderie is among the finest mental health programs.  And never underestimate its value as a lifetime sport - one you'll not have to abandon as you age.


Perfetta Bocce Balls

Okay, Okay, I've resisted long enough.  You want bocce balls, I'll get you bocce balls.  Many of us believe that the world's best are made in Italy by Perfetta.  I've worked a deal with Rico Daniele of the Wonderful World of Bocce Association, to offer his Perfetta Bocce balls via my website and Ezine.  The set is "official" size with four 107 mm red balls, four 107 mm green balls, one white pallino, and a well-constructed nylon carrying bag.  The carrying bag is a big plus from my point of view.  I had a Jolly Pro set which has compartments into which the balls snuggly slide.  But the narrow carrying strap cuts into your hands as you lug it around. Click Perfetta Set to see photo and/or order the Perfetta Bocce Ball Set @ $119.00 plus $20.00 shipping anywhere in the USA.  It's not cheap - but it's quality!  Comes with a bocce t-shirt and Rico's promotional book, Bocce, A Sport for Everyone.  Ships from Springfield, Massachusetts on the day after order is received.


Variations of the game - backboard dead?

There is a movement afoot (a good one, I think) to make any ball that hits the backboard without first hitting another bocce ball or the pallino a dead ball.  The ball is removed from the court and may not score a point. This is a compromise of sorts between the very strict International Rules and today's so-called Open Rules.  International rules include "calling" shots, and marking the positions of previously played balls (which are returned to their original positions if the caller fails to make an accurate shot). Even top players think that the International
rules are a "tough sell" in this country.  Critics claim that international play is too complicated and makes the game long and dull.

The movement though, is toward making the game one of touch and finesse, while minimizing the luck factor. In the East where many play everything "live" off the backboard, early in a frame they often attempt to hit away an opponent's close point. If they miss, they reason, "That's okay. I wanted a ball at the back anyway, in case the opposition knocks the pallino there later." With the backboard always live, a poor shot can come into play later.  

In some areas they play the back wall dead no matter how a ball got there. Say you try to knock away a close point and miss. If your missed attempt hits the backboard, it is dead (taken out of the court and not figured in the scoring for that frame).  If your shot successfully hits its target and causes the struck ball to hit the back wall, then that ball is dead.  Furthermore, if you hit your target causing it to roll to the back and your ball has sufficient momentum so that it too hits the back, then it also is dead.

I think that somewhere in bocce's past (all of these games - bocce, bowls, petanque, croquet - have their evolution lost in the mists of antiquity) the game was played with ditches at both ends.  Causing an opponent's ball to end up in the ditch was a big advantage - it couldn't score a point.

Are readers in favor of keeping the ball live off the backboards, or does this Open Rules compromise make sense?  Please REPLY. Also, do any readers have experience with bocce courts with ditches? Please REPLY and I'll report back next week.


Oh, the language we use

I am interested in learning the useful terms players have coined for bocce such as scoring four points in one frame.  I've heard players call it a "four-bagger."  On the south side of Chicago they "toots it up" when they want to tap their ball a bit closer to snag the point. And I've heard of closing in for point referred to as "coodling in."  When playing with red and green bocce balls a hit-away shot attempting to displace a close red team's point is sometimes dubbed a "Visine" because it "Gets the red out".  Do you use any colorful bocce language, either picked up along the bocce circuit or made up yourself?  Please REPLY and I'll share in future issues and, please, "keep it rated G."


Bocce and Special Olympics - Part II
{Last week we introduced the issue that some believe Special Olympics segregates athletes and is counter-productive to the movement for inclusion. The setting is the 1999 World Games in North Carolina}

All of these criticisms made sense to me - but, in North Carolina I felt that I was part of something positive.  At the 1995 World Summer Games, in Connecticut, my first, I was struck by the fact that those with mental retardation were the "whole show." They were the athletes, the coaches, officials, volunteers, and the entertainment. What's more inclusive than that? And the Special Olympics competition is moving toward "unified" events, which pair athletes who have retardation with those who do not, but who have similar skill levels.

Don't these events help raise consciousness, change people's attitudes about mental retardation? The athletes love to compete and to meet people from different countries and to try to be the best that they can be. Don't all of us who enjoy competition do just that - try to find a level at which we can compete and have fun? The reason I play hoop Thursday nights with the "old bucks" is because I can't compete with the young kids anymore. And wasn't one of the reasons I attended a small New England college so that I could play Division II baseball rather than take the chance of getting lost in the shuffle at a major university? Special Olympics represents a level at which athletes with disabilities can compete, have fun, and experience the pros and cons of that competition. Placed alongside inclusive recreational activities, Special Olympics is a plus. Miami YMCA Executive Director Anna Necheles claims that "Special Olympics really makes a huge difference in people's lives, and it shows the world what these athletes can do." The games give athletes a start, and they can go on to parks and recreation leagues as the next step. Parents of an athlete from Ireland talked about how their daughter played in the town basketball league, but was a "bench warmer." But in the World Summer Games she was a full-time player and her team won the gold. "She found an arena where she could excel," says Necheles "and this can only have positive carry-over effects."

Trying to clarify my thoughts on the Special Olympics experience, I reflected on my experience in North Carolina. I saw athletes treated as adults and always afforded basic human dignity. I didn't see the so-called infantilization of adults with disabilities. I saw volunteerism in its purest form. People from all over the globe converged on the Triangle area and gave of themselves. Rico Daniele, owner of an Italian deli and Richard Calvanese, a self-employed CPA closed down their Massachusetts businesses to serve as volunteer officials. Kim Davis, a
teacher from Boone, North Carolina, revamped her vacation schedule to be there.

I saw humor. When Wayne Boggs of Nebraska won the coin toss and I gave him his choice of red or green bocce balls, there was a short pause as he considered his options. Then with a big grin he decided "I'll take red...same color as my pick-up." And I saw tears. When Wayne needed one more point to win the gold medal, he looked toward the heavens and in a poignant moment, called out "Mama, it's up to you now." The tears belonged to Kim Davis.

I witnessed intense athletic endeavor and tension. At the softball venue in a game between Iowa and Venezuela, both benches emptied after a collision between a base runner and fielder. It appeared to observers that an ugly international incident might be at hand - but both teams merely wanted to congratulate hard play and to make certain that everyone was unhurt.

I saw determination. Athletes are charged with signing the score card after each bocce contest. I watched the Jamaican, Coy Barker, take the pen in his hand made inflexible by cerebral palsy and begin what became the arduous task of writing his name. It seemed to take him longer to autograph the scorecard than it did to play the game, but he persisted. Coy re-adjusted the pen in his hand several times, doodled to get the ink flowing, made several false starts, and labored over each cursive letter - but finally, satisfied with the result, proudly handed me the signed card.

And I encountered some poor sportsmanship on the part of athletes and coaches. Why shouldn't the negative aspects of sports be here as well as the positive?

The next World Summer Games are slated for Ireland in 2003. It will be the first time the games will be hosted outside the USA. They'll use Dublin University and Point Theatre and other venues. Will I be there? I'm not sure what to make of all these criticisms of Special Olympics. Most make good sense to me. They come from bright and experienced people - those in the trenches, so to speak. Special Olympics organizers need to listen and to work more closely with these well-meaning critics. But, my instincts tell me that I was part of something very special in North Carolina. It is something I definitely want more of, and, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back!" if they'll have me.

Click  This Week's Photos for some neat World Summer Games pics. 


Arthritis or Joint Problems Slowing Your Bocce Game?

Check out this product which I found so helpful that I became a manufacturer's rep for it.  Click the link below to read about a very powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the joints. People everywhere have had good results for the symptoms of arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, asthma, allergies and a laundry list of illnesses making the product sound like a snake oil that's "good for anything that ails you."  The reason is that this powerful substance composed of natural substances like extracts from grape seed, red wine, and pine bark, does two major things in the body.  These antioxidants improve circulation and boost immunity.  So many of today's maladies can be traced to poor circulation and low immunity.  My son James, pretty expert in herbal remedies and holistic medicine, turned me on to the product almost 6 years ago.  "I think it will help your arthritic old basketball knees," he reasoned.  Within a week of faithfully using the product, I was going up and down stairs without pain.  I took a serious look at the company, liked what I saw, and became a manufacturer's rep for the many products they market. $64.95 for a three-month supply. Click  Antioxidant to check it out.


Still available - boules measures - the finest measuring devices for bocce anywhere.  They are neat to have on hand for games and make the best gift I can imagine for a bocce lover (other than my book, of course!). Check them out via the photos I've posted on my site.  They retail for $19.95 plus shipping. Measures 

Interested in horseshoes, croquet, badminton, volleyball, archery?  These books make great, inexpensive gifts for outdoor games players (Fathers' Day is coming up soon!). Click  Outdoor Games  to order any of these well crafted booklets by author Steven Boga.  Under $10.00 each.  

Still the bestselling (and only instructional type) book on bocce in America.  The Joy of Bocce $12.95.