By Mandy Heiser, Account Coordinator
The plural form of the Italian word boccia, which means “bowl.”
One of the oldest sports in the world, with roots tracing back to 5200 BC.
A popular game enjoyed by many historical figures, including Roman Emperor Augustus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington and Henri Matisse (see painting below).
A game so globally beloved that it has been banned on several occasions by leaders like the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, King Carlos of Spain and King Henry VIII.
According to legend, Sir Francis Drake refused to set out to defend the English fleet from the Spanish Armada until a rousing game of bocce had concluded.
And this is the activity The Hoffman Agency San Jose chose for our quarterly offsite event.
Bocce has a surplus of benefits: it is a socially engaging game that requires team communication, strategic planning, coordination, flexibility and mindfulness. The New York Times recently stated that “The Secret to a Long Life is Bocce.”
We clearly made the right choice.
At the end of a lively week filled with research, pitches, briefings and lots of coffee, it was nice to reconnect with each other over Italian food and sport. We loaded up on pizza and then took to the court.
Since bocce ball was new to a good half of us, I’d like to outline some ground rules:
- Bocce ball is played on a rectangular court, typically measuring 60-90 feet in length and 7-14 feet wide.
- The game is played by two teams. Each team has 8 bocce balls (usually colored red or green — can you tell this game is Italian?) in its possession.
- The first throw of the pallino, a small silver or white ball, is usually determined by coin toss. The winning team gets to throw the pallino and the first pitch of the bocce ball.
- All tosses must be pitched underhand behind the first white line on the court (typically at least 30 feet away from the pallino).
- The goal of the game is to get your team’s bocce balls closest to the pallino, while knocking out the bocce balls of your opponents.
- Teams alternate pitching bocce balls. Once all the balls have been pitched, a measuring tape is used to judge the ball closest to the pallino. Whichever team is closest wins the points for the round.
- Points are awarded on amount of balls closest to the pallino, uninterrupted by the other team’s balls. For example, if Team A has three balls measuring 8 inches, 1 foot, and 3 feet from the pallino while Team B has a ball measuring 2 feet from the pallino, Team A would be awarded 2 points.
- Whichever team gains 15 points first wins the game.
The competition was fierce, the stakes were high, and the drama was palpable. A team would enjoy a sizeable lead in one round only to experience a crushing defeat in the next. For this reason, bocce tends to be a vocally loud sport — groans, cheers and sideline dances prevailed (as demonstrated below by SAE Melissa Lewelling):
It was a wonderful day to bond as an agency, coming together to play a timeless team sport dependent on communication and strategy that journeys through the classic story arc.
How fitting for The Hoffman Agency!
As the Italians say, Buon gioco.