Over the summer adults in Commerce gathered to “Play Ball!” as the parks and recreation department launched a league for a new sport, Blitzball. The league was created through an initiative of the department to organize recreational activities for those who are still kids at heart.
“We were approached by a lot of people in the community about adding adult sports especially in the summer,” said Chase Carter, assistant director of Commerce Parks and Recreation. “Anyone who coached for us on a volunteer basis or has kids playing sports only has summer available. We threw around a couple ideas. Blitzball was one of them.”
Blitzball, a variation of baseball made popular by its growing internet presence, utilizes a plastic ball and bat while preserving many of the rules of America’s favorite pastime. Similar to the classic backyard game Wiffleball, a Blitzball does not travel as far as a baseball which was ideal for a parks and recreation department looking to plan activities on the youth-sized fields at Veterans Memorial Park.
“Blitzball was a unique opportunity and a necessity for us,” Carter said. “We really don’t have any fences here in town that go beyond 235 feet except for the high school field. Still, it’s short even for high school standards.”
The design of a Blitzball adds to the difficulty of hitting. Unlike a spherical baseball, a Blitzball is made up of 72 flat hexagonal sides. These ridges reduce wind resistance allowing a pitcher to produce nasty sliders, curves and cutters.
The Commerce version of Blitzball has been slightly altered by the organizers to allow more participation and to encourage diverse ages to play. Carter noted that the league allowed more defensive players to be on the field, more balls in the pitch count and the option for batters over the age of 50 to use a tennis racquet when stepping up to the plate.
It seems that you really can teach old dogs new tricks. Adults in the community jumped at the chance to learn a new sport. More than just a game, the Blitzball experiment at Veterans Memorial Park provided an opportunity for adults to socialize, exercise and enjoy the simple pleasures associated with being outdoors.
“The Blitzball league provided a wonderful opportunity to build comradery,” said Paige Young, a member of the league. “I enjoyed feeling like a kid again spending summer nights on a baseball field.”
The league enjoyed a great deal of success, and Carter promised the Blitzball league would return while citing the need for more adult recreational activities in Commerce.
“You don’t stop being interested in sports after school age,” Carter said. “Adults have athletic interests, but they have a lot of demands on their time. We have jobs, we have kids, and we have things going on. Recreation shouldn’t stop because we have a lot of things going on.”
Carter encouraged adults who wanted to play Blitzball next year to keep a close eye on the department’s website in April after the conclusion of spring sports registration. One adult registers a team and is responsible for assembling the roster. In 2020 the league will play from early June to the middle of July.
Liam Hardy is a journalism student at the University of North Georgia.