The Game of Hoophole
Summer is whispering in our ears with the promise of more daylight hours, hours that can be challenging to fill in new and creative ways. Fear not—With the help of some fine friends, I have created a new sport to help you occupy those forthcoming long summer days. But don’t we already have enough sports in the world? you say. Shut your Hoophole! we say. With a reverent hat tip to Calvinball and Whackbat, here’s how Hoophole works.
The game is played by four tossers, their roles being evenly divided between hooptossers and crosstossers, on a field called the hoopspace or, properly, the orbit. The diameter of the orbit is established by marking off four equidistant positions from a center point called the crook. In order to establish the four positions of the orbit, a player of average height, weight and fitness should walk ten generous paces from the crook in four cardinal directions. Located at the north and south positions of the orbit are the hooptossers, at the east and west, the crosstossers. Game positions should be assigned via a vigorous debate moderated by no one.
Game equipment consists of two items: 1) A sturdy hula hoop of about 40 inches in diameter and 2) a ball, preferably a baseball but alternately any other ball of similar size and weight. When all four players have taken their assigned position in the orbit, game play can commence with the first toss (each turn in Hoophole is called a toss). To begin the game, the hooptosser in the north position will be holding the hula hoop and the crosstosser in the east position will be holding the ball. To start the toss, the hooptosser in the south position will issue a high pitched call of “hula hoop,” which sounds like this. After the call has been made, the hooptosser in the north position will hurtle the hoop across the hoopspace, ensuring that it passes through the crook of the orbit en route to the hooptosser in the south position. While the hoop is bouncing and rolling across the hoopspace, the crosstosser in the east position will attempt to hurl the ball through the hoophole. If the crosstosser is succesful, they are awarded 6 points. If they are not, the hooptosser who threw the hoop is awarded 6 points. Once the toss is completed, the process repeats with the hooptosser in the north position calling “hula hoop,” the hooptosser in the south position throwing the hoop and the crosstosser in the west position throwing the ball. The first player to reach 72 points is the winner.
In order to keep play fresh, all players must rotate one position around the orbit, clockwise, each time any player reaches a score increment of 18. Thus the first rotation happens at 18, then 36 and finally 54. All players must remain in orbit for the duration of their toss and any player straying out of orbit will be considered in fault and the toss replayed. Similarly, if the tossing hooptosser fails to cross the crook of the orbit with the hoop, they will be considered in fault. If any player faults twice in a row, they will forfeit their toss and six points will be awarded to the opposing hooptosser or crosstosser respectively. There are no teams in Hoophole, however it may be to the advantage of the hooptossers to coordinate the timing of their call and toss if by doing so they catch the crosstosser off guard.
At any point in the game, a crosstosser may end all play by successfully completing a Kamikaze Toss. In the Kamikaze Toss, the crosstosser leaves his or her position in the orbit, running at full speed towards the hoop and attempting to jump cleanly through the hoophole as it crosses the crook. In the unlikely event that the crosstosser is able to maintain posession of the ball AND pass their entire body through the hoophole without touching the rim of the hoop, they will be awarded 72 points and considered the winner of the game. In the more likely event that they crash through the hoophole and disrupt the hoop, they will be stripped of all accumulated points and assigned a score of zero. Generally, the Kamikaze Toss will be reserved for those players who have nothing to lose.
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