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“What’s the Most Popular Sport?”

If someone asked you “What’s the most popular new sport in Southwest Florida?” what would you say? Golf? Tennis? Pickle- ball? Kite-surfing? Roller-blading?

Well, it’s none of those. The answer is surprisingly bocce.

Just a minute…what is bocce? And why is it becoming the new hip trend for sports in the Estero/Bonita/Naples area.

Isn’t bocce an Italian game?

Well, sort of…but bocce originally started in Egypt thousands of years ago. Over centuries it slowly migrated to Greece then Rome. For years it was played in the streets with smooth rounded rocks by the local poor. It became enormously popular. So popular at one point the Roman aristocracy outlawed the game because the street game interfered with their chariots. But that had the opposite effect and the disgruntled poor played it even more as a sign of political protest.

Today it’s recognized as the “Italian” game sport played worldwide by hundreds of millions.

Except today it’s played on natural soil courts 70 to 90 ft long length and 8 to 13 ft wide. The most typical tournament courts are 70 ft by 10ft. Bocce balls are spherical can be made of metal, plastic, even wood as long as they have no inbuilt bias.

A game can be conducted between two single players or two teams of two, three, or four players.

A match is started by one side throwing a smaller ball (called the jack) from one end of the court into a zone ending at least 8 ft from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice the other team can place the jack anywhere they want within the zone.

Each side has 4 balls. The first side then the second side bowls a ball. From then on the side which is farthest from the jack goes until one side has used up all of their balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls. The team with the closest ball to the jack scores points in any frame receiving one point for each of their balls closer to the jack than the other team. The length of a game varies but is typically from 7 to 13 points.

The game is friendly but can get very competitive with players throwing the ball in  an underarm action trying to hit and move either the jack or their competitor’s ball to win points or gain a more favorable position.

Another reason I’ve heard the game is gaining such popularity is the tradition of toasting with a little wine after winning a frame. Keep in mind there are several frames to every game…my kind of friendly sport.

It’s the Bocce life for me!

I’m going to try it once the tournament courts are built at Genova. Care to join me?

For more bocce info check out boccevolo.com.

For more Genova info call Debbi, Fred or Karen at 239-948-2929.



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