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It’s a beautiful game, for some

Chris Clark, Getting Into The Game

As much fun to say as it is to play, bocce ball is a beautiful game.

By definition, it is a variety of lawn bowling played on a dirt court that is shorter and narrower than a typical bowling green. A proper dirt court is not always available, but a savvy player can make do with just about anything, from a leafy backyard to a construction site.

Bocce is an ancient game and, depending on where you’re from, can be pronounced bot-chay, or bot-chee. It doesn’t matter. Either way leads to fun. It has become a popular pastime in campgrounds, at family gatherings, and generally anywhere you might find people having a good time.

Some bocce ballers prefer the button-down level play of court bot-chay, but true enjoyment can be found in the free-form antics of overland bot-chee. The aim of the game is simple. A marker advances on the playing surface, and players take turns rolling bocce balls towards the marker. Whoever is closest wins.

Different players all bring different strengths to the game. Some have a deft touch at close range, while others can be tough to beat over the long distance. Certain players are good in the sand, others in the long grass. The trick is to keep the game moving, so that everyone gets a chance to shine.

Because the field of play is ever-changing, the game can take twists and turns that no one sees coming. It is easy enough for anyone to enjoy, and challenging enough for any level of competition. Above all, the game is social; and its only side effects are camaraderie, mixed with laughter.

Even so, there are those out there who do not enjoy bocce ball, nor do they see the value in it. They rant and rave until they are red in the face, and tell you to play your beautiful game somewhere else. Except they don’t use the word beautiful.

They use words you shouldn’t hear in a respectable neighbourhood.

So, you keep playing anyway. You keep playing because bocce is a great way to relax when you are red in the face. It has a wonderful way of washing away all the distractions and annoyances of the world, of which there are many. It helps you forget all about the angry little people, and there are plenty of those too.

Get up a game next time you have the chance, and you won’t regret it. Bocce is good for the heart and good for the soul, and a great way to spend a relaxing fall afternoon among friends.

And if life still hands you lemons, rather than grumble about it, make the most of a bad situation and make lemonade; and then go play some bocce.

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