The global takeover of French handball begins in Miami

Categories: Sports

The Marlins settled for 600 fans to a home game last year. The Panthers are literally giving away tickets. Our minor-league soccer team is hemmoraging cash, And those are sports that Americans have at least heard of. 


So you might think it'd be foolhardy to bet millions on Miamians attending the championship of a sport unknown in North America. But don't tell that to Alain Smadja, the president of the French Handball League, or A.C. Tellison, Jr., the former University of Miami standout and NFL draftee who's organized the finals coming to American Airlines Arena in April. To them, importing the sport, which is watched by more than a billion people worldwide, to an American stage is the first step in a coup of the Americas. 

Okay, first of all, the handball we speak of is not the same sport that your Puerto Rican grandfather who lives in the Bronx puts on short shorts and kneepads to play in the park on Sundays. The South Florida Business Journal describes it as the Griffin of sports: "a cross between hockey and basketball, or lacrosse without the sticks and padding," After some scholarship on Youtube, we're gonna say its like upside-down soccer, where you can only use your hands and, thankfully, there's a hell of a lot more scoring. 

Riptide, for one, is rooting for the brave plan to succeed after being inspired by a translated article of HandAction, the French handball magazine we'd get a subscription to if we weren't already committed to Jai-Alai Illustrated.  A few- very French- highlights:

Alain Smadja has a gleam in his eyes when he speaks of America, like a pioneer of the Wild West who moves to virgin and fertile earth.

Miami, then... Sometimes referred to as "God's Waiting Room" because of the number of retirees who move there. Today, the region of Greater Miami (around 5 million inhabitants) is a veritable melting-pot that would make the American founding fathers proud. Half the population is Hispanic, a million residents are Cuban, 400,000 Brazilians, but also many Europeans including 30,000 French. Unlike the citizens of Nebraska and Texas, Floridians will maybe have at least heard a distant cousin speak of handball in their lives... Anyway, its not the lack of handcall culture in the United States that frightens Cristian Zaharia, whose marketing slogans are ready, "It's the most American sport that the Americans are not yet playing! Americans are going to love handball. Why isn't soccer taking the desired momentum? Because, above all, Americans detest all those 0-0 or 1-1 matches. Handball offers plenty of goals and spectacle. It will not be a problem to fill the gym. Americans are consumers of sport. It's normal for them to be fans of something and to be fans for life. And in their eyes, thanks to this event, French handball will be the best handball in the world. And many will feel the calling, because Americans love winners."

The games will not be played in an hour but accoriding to the big format that the Americans like. Multiple demonstrations and side shows are therefore anticipated, notably the "bands", musical groups that are typical for a college sports atmosphere.

From that last quote, we're guessing Burnie will be making a cameo. Sigh. 

For info on tickets to the tournament, which begins on April 10, go here. Don't worry, billing will be kept discrete.


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