WhirlyBall: A Uniquely Chicago Sport


whirlyball game

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You don’t know what WhirlyBall is?! It’s that bumper car/lacrosse/Hi-Li/whiffle ball/hockey/basketball game, duh. (Or is “no duh” more appropriate there? I forget. Oh how I miss the 90’s…)

WhirlyBall is basically the greatest invention ever, with roots in Chicago and the suburbs. (Actually, pretty fitting, if you ask me.) To get started, you’ll need to round up any number of your best friends/coworkers/family members. Make sure these friends of yours aren’t completely broke, because WhirlyBall will cost you — It’ll run you about $12 per person per half hour of court time if you don’t buy a larger package. With how addictive the game is, that can add up pretty quickly.

You divide into teams of five and from the comfort of your very own bumper car, you work together using hand-held scoops (a la Hi-Li/Lacrosse) to advance a whiffle ball down the hockey rink-esque court. The objective is to rocket the ball at the scoring target, which looks kind of like a basketball hoop if the rim of the hoop was in the middle of the backboard and the net extended back behind the board. Yeah, you kind of have to see it to get it. Just trust me.

With the help of a professional referee and an electronic scoreboard/clock, you can play for as long as you rent the court, or until your opponents start crying in defeat, whichever comes first. Battle wounds are a common WhirlyBall occurrence, so don’t be surprised when your inner thighs are black and blue the next morning from your bumper car steering wheel. This game gets aggressive, and is not for the faint of heart.

Note: While not required by law, WhirlyBall is exponentially more fun after consuming your favorite adult beverage. You technically aren’t allowed to play if intoxicated, but with a bar on the grounds of the Chicago facility, the rule is almost always overlooked. Just don’t get sloppy! It also means minors aren’t allowed in after a certain time, so check the WhirlyBall website for details.

While each facility varies slightly, the Chicago facility has a multi-level laser tag course, pool tables, video games, air hockey, foosball, food, a full bar, and more. Some others even have full rock climbing walls, making all the locations great for birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, office parties, etc.

Whirlyball has been such a success in Chicago, copycat locations are popping up in other states. But let’s all remember where this bar sport has its roots.

The Essentials:
Location: 1880 West Fullerton Avenue (Check website for suburban locations)
Phone: 800.894.4759
Website: www.whirlyball.com

About Christy Berkery

Christy is a regular UPchicago.com contributor.

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