I never would have thought I’d spend my Sunday afternoon running around inside a giant plastic bubble and knocking people over while trying to play soccer. Somehow, however, that’s exactly what happened. The Neighborhood Leadership Team hosted Battle Ball bubble soccer in the Towne Field House on Sunday afternoon, bringing enjoyment and stress relief to many students. Teams of three to four people came for a game of two five-minute halves and a one-minute half time. Watching the other teams play while waiting for our turn, my teammates and I witnessed many people get pushed to the ground, roll over, completely flip and then stand back up and get right back to the game. It looked painful but not hard, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Players smiled and laughed as they lifted their bubble balls off at the end of the game.
When it was our turn to play, I was excited and nervous. I tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter that I’m semi-claustrophobic and that putting half of my body in a giant blow-up ball was, in fact, exactly what I wanted to do. To get into the ball, it had to be rolled so that the handles were on the side opposite you, and the straps were in the right position. My arms went easily through the straps, and I grabbed the handles and stood up. My body from the knees down was exposed so I was able to run and kick, but the rest of me was encased in plastic. The straps felt like I was wearing a backpack, and the handles were in an awkward position. Thankfully, the ball was designed with an entire cylinder cut out of the middle so that if I leaned forward enough I could breathe fresh air from the top and see clearly. The sight around me really was funny. Random legs poked out of giant balls of plastic and tried to run (tried being the key word, because they mostly tripped and fell).
The rules of the game were simple: We would start dodgeball style, with each team at its back line. Two cones on each side marked the goals, and, after scoring a goal, we would go back to the beginning position. There were no rules about when or how hard we could push each other. The only piece of advice we were given was that, if we were to fall on our backs, we should roll over and get up from our knees. We walked back to our line, bumping into each other to see how it felt. And then we were off.
I have to admit that I’m not great at soccer to start with, and being encased in a bubble did not exactly improve my skills. It was an awkward weight that bounced as I ran, although I did appreciate the safety and protection it offered from the flying soccer ball. I’m not sure who hit me first or exactly which direction that person came from, but one second I was standing up and the next, I was rolling on my back. That first hit was the scariest − not knowing really how it would feel to be hit and how to get back up, then suddenly being on my back and naturally rolling over, unaware of who had shoved me.
As I got more used to my bubble, I was able to run more and started to shove people. The opposing team was tired because it had just played a game, but its players were still pushing us and trying to score. I had to let go of my niceness, and I figured out that it was most effective to hit the person who had the ball or was trying to take it from me. Pushing people over was aggressive, fun and just felt good. Also, I don’t know of anywhere else where it is acceptable to shove someone to the ground forcefully when fighting for a ball, so I figured I might as well take advantage of it.
After just 10 minutes of play, my teammates and I were exhausted and sweaty, but definitely happy. As we were walking off the court, we found out that another team needed an opponent. So, we crawled back into our bubbles for round two. I thought I had energy for another game, but I was definitely tired and took the hits harder. By the end of the second game we were all beat. Still, it’d been fun, and I was thankful for the opportunity to get out my aggression in a relatively non-violent, physical way.