By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer
Xavier University is a basketball school, known across the country for its team. Basketball, however, may not be the best choice of a headlining sport for the university.
Let’s be clear, basketball is an interesting, exciting sport and in a couple of weeks, Cintas Center will be filled with fans. That being said, there are other exciting sports that would be much more interesting, fun and maybe even more profitable for the university (I’m looking at you, administration).
First, basketball may not even be the best sport that takes place on a court. Instead, handball is a much more intriguing sport. Combine the goals of soccer plus the arc of basketball and you have a perfect set up for handball. The game is played seven on seven, so more players get in on the action. A goal is scored by throwing the ball into the goal. The play is much more fast paced than basketball, with lots of dribbling, passing and shots fired at the often helpless keeper.
Everyone knows that Xavier doesn’t have football at the NCAA or club level. Maybe football isn’t the best fit for the university, for one reason or another. Instead, Xavier should take a different approach to the sport, and be the first college in America to adopt Australian rules football.
Australian rules football is somewhere between American football and rugby. A score is made by ‘punting’ a ball, which is similar to a rugby shape, through two vertical posts. Australian rules football has a larger emphasis on a few key things: passing, kicking the ball and making spectacular catches. The most intriguing rules are that you can’t run more than six yards before performing a dribble, known as a running bounce and when catching a pass from a teammate, you can use your defender as a springboard or ladder to get high in the air and catch the ball. The play of the game provides a spectacular display of talent.
In sports, it seems people value violence. After all, many people are caught complaining that today’s professional football is “too soft” and lacks the excitement of a big hit the game used to have. Some watch hockey just to see a fight or a hard board check or two. These things point to our love of violence in sporting events, and that comes without even mentioning the audiences for boxing or MMA.
Because of this, Xavier should revive the Mesoamerican ballgame. According to historical accounts, the rules varied based on location, but the basics include a heavy rubber ball which couldn’t be played with one’s arms or legs. Players could end the game by passing the ball through a hoop that hung from the walls of the court. Fans would get their fill of collisions, with players running into the stone walls that surround the I-shaped court, diving to the ground to keep the ball in the air and smashing into each other. Further, at the end of the game, the losing team is sacrificed. Nothing would be more exciting than a sport where the players make every play like their life depended on it.
As students get ready to cheer on the Musketeers this basketball season, it will be enjoyable, but it’s important to think about whether it would be more enjoyable to instead be supporting handball, Australian rules football or the Mesoamerican ballgame teams instead.