Bocce is about to explode in this country. LL Bean’s summer catalog advertises bocce balls in a handsome carrying case and, yes, designer bocce shoes are in vogue. “Bocce,” said -something couple, “is the yuppiest thing we do.” Bocce’s small but enthusiastic band of promoters expects it to become one of the top recreational sports in the USA. A set of bocce balls will be as common a household item as a television set. Experiencing ever-rising popularity, indoor bocce courts are sprouting up in restaurants, lounges and sports bars in various parts of the country. You can play some friendly bocce while waiting to be served, and settle the bill over a game afterward.
The introduction of bocce in American schools is beginning to gain momentum, with young people taking to the game readily. In Wilbraham, Massachusetts, bocce buff Leonard Hickey built a gorgeous 76-foot long court on his business property. He installed spectator benches, and lights the court from dusk to dawn. Local high school students spend some evenings there and are proving to be naturals at the sport. They understand the game immediately and are rapidly developing their own bocce jargon.
“You scored the point, so you get pallino privilege – it’s like having the honors in golf.”
“That ball is too close to beat, so take it out!”
“Yea, it’s near the sideboard, so run the rail and take ‘em out!”
“Good idea, even if you miss, we have three pellets left.”
Maria Colangelo, a teacher of Italian at Plainville High in Connecticut runs a bocce week that culminates with a popular bocce tournament. The tourney is open only to students in her classes, a strategy that has boosted course enrollment over the years. The students practice bocce on the lawns on campus, then play at a local Italian club where the members serve as referees. The players are permitted to speak only Italian when asking questions of the referee, and of course, the official can only respond via the romance language. Ms. Colangelo’s excellent program is well covered by local media, and is typical of the response bocce will get in schools in the future.
It is amazing that within such a simple and elegant framework of play, bocce provides such limitless variation. From backyard lawns to international competitions, bocce is truly a game for all people. And in what other arena could an 80-year-old grandparent compete with an eight-year-old grandchild and be on nearly equal terms?