A part of

Issue # 2 Thursday, Nov. 13, 1997

About the Author:

Charles Loyd McIntosh

In 1997 Charles Loyd McIntosh was a news writer for the Talledega Daily Home (www.dailyhome.com). He was a former reporter for The Western Star in Bessemer (a small city west of Birmingham), Alabama, and a former Sports Editor for the Clanton Advertiser. At the time he was writing for the Sideroad, Loyd was pursuing a Masters in English degree at the University of Montevallo, Alabama. An avid sports fan, soccer is Loyd's sport of choice, one he has been known to coach in the recent past.

"However, we squeamish Americans are as afraid of new sports entering our athletic landscape as we are of "nekkid people.'"

". . .Korfball has always been a mixed sport... Through the eyes of an American, this is truly a novel concept."


Korfball: The sport of the 90's!

We here at the Sideroad sports department are committed to keeping our public up to speed on the latest news in the fast-paced, cutting edge world of sports. What I, in particular, like to do is introduce people to new and exciting sports.

The world of sports is like like a virus; it is continuously mutating. Of course, you don't need to go to the doctor and get a shot every year to prepare for rowing season.

Anyway, as I was once again doing research for this week's column, my curiosity was aroused by a strange sport catching on in Europe. A sport called. . . Korfball.

Now if there are any Europeans reading this column, I realize most of you already know about Korfball. However, we squeamish Americans are as afraid of new sports entering our athletic landscape as we are of "nekkid people." Forgive me if you don't get a lot out of this column.

Korfball is a sport that will resemble basketball, soccer and volleyball to most Europeans.

According to the Supernova Korfball club home page there are eight players on each team; four on defence and four on attack, but after every two goals the players change positions: attackers become defenders and defenders become attackers. Goals are scored through a basket that stands 11 1/2 feet (3 1/2 meters) above the ground, two-third distance between halfway and the endline allowing play to continue when a shot is missed.

Now, the next rule resembles a sport played a lot in America, ultimate frisbee: players are not allowed to run with the ball, creating dependence on players finding space and movement.

But, the most interesting aspect of Korfball is that it is a mixed team sport.

Each team has four men and four women. So, what you have is two women play on defense with two men, and the same configuration on attack.

Personally, I can't think of any sport that puts men and women on the same surface actively competing against each other. It's a concept that would probably baffle most mainstream sports fans.

Women's sports are catching on all over the world. The success of the WNBA in America and the dawning of the Women's World Cup Soccer Championships, which began only in this decade, proves that.

But, for the most part, women and men don't compete against each other in any physically demanding sport, especially one that has the potential for contact. We do see mixed tennis on occasion, but the pace of that sport is much slower to the casual observer than men's and women's singles.

There is also the Colorado Silver Bullets, a women's baseball team that travels the country playing men's minor league and old timer's teams, but this has as the resemblence of a travelling circus. In the world of athletics, we've long held on the "seperate but equal" concept.

However, korfball isn't really all that new. According to the Supernova web site, korfball was developed in Holland in 1902 by Nico Broekhuysen, a teacher in a mixed school in Amsterdam. Since the sport's conception in the early 20th century, Korfball has always been a mixed sport.

Through the eyes of an American, this is truly a novel concept. Furthermore, a player cannot score if they are being defended by someone of their own sex. The sport was specifically designed for women and men to compete together.

I live in a country whose athletic landscape is dominated by American football, a sport so physically dangerous that the players wear more armor than combat Marines. In order for a female to be on the field, they have to be jumping up and down, screaming cheers half-naked in Green Bay, Wisconsin in December.

Something seems a wee-bit wrong here. I don't think we'll see a woman on the defensive line in the National Football League soon nor tending the net in the British Premier League.

In a world where competition and teamwork has been segregated along gender lines for so long, it is encouraging to see a sport like Korfball gaining popularity.

Here's a korfball site to check out.

Korfball Club Loenhout

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