We have a sporting pause before the NFL playoffs and college conference football tournaments begin, before NCAA basketball is cranked up to speed, and well before the NBA resumes its struggle to make you give them money.
No worries. We can make good use of our time catching up on neglected corners of SportsWorld, in this instance, the kabaddi corner. As you know, kabaddi has an ancient history, originating in downriver, backcountry, rural India 4000 years ago, so they say. What is verifiable is that it was a demonstration sport at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Some wackos claim it was part of Hitler’s “hands across the border” initiative.
As bespeaks a 4000-year-old game, there are variants in different parts of the world, but everywhere the game retains its India village character. Kabaddi does not use a ball, bat, stick, net, or glove. There is no equipment, period. Participants are required to have a human body, stamina, and lung power.
A contest consists of two teams, each with 12 players, 7 allowed on the court at any one time. Only each team’s leader is allowed to speak. The court is roughly half the size of a basketball court or, in one version, a circle. The court is divided into two equal sections by a line down the middle. There is a flip to see which team goes first. The game consists of two 20-minute halves with a 5-minute break when teams change sides.
I’ll cut to the cool factor — be a raider. Be a dashing raider. One side sends a “raider” over the center line. He must continuously chant “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi” while over the line. The raider’s mission is to touch, with his hand or leg, as many opponents as he can, then return to his own side without taking a breath. This explains why he keeps chanting, “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi.” The raider’s chants demonstrate he’s not sneaking a breath.
Everyone the raider touches is out. The raider earns a point for his team for every person he touches. He earns a bonus two points if he touches the entire opposing team and returns to his side without taking a breath. Once a player is out he has to stay out until his team scores points during their raiding turn or when the remaining players on his team can catch/delay/ground the marauding raider until he is forced to take a breath.
If you’re playing defense (defensive players are called antis), the idea is to prevent the raider from returning to his side until he takes a breath. If the raider stops chanting “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi,” he is declared out. Defensive players try to trap, circle, tackle, drape themselves over the raider. Teams alternate sending a raider over the line.
Now then, since this is a human sport, that means there must be leagues, international governing bodies, and a world cup. There is all that. For instance, regard India’s Premier Division Kabaddi with its legendary teams: Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Jail, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Army, and Azad Sporting Club.
There is a Kabaddi World Cup. In fact, the 2011 Kabaddi World Cup just finished on November 20, in Punjab, India. Fourteen countries sent teams. Besides the homeboys of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, there were the national squads from Canada, Argentina, Australia, Italy, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Unhappily, the U.S. team didn’t make it to the later rounds; they were disqualified for doping midway through the tournament. India beat Canada in the final, 59-25.
Lastly, here’s good news out of Penn State. In a selfless move, Jack Raykovitz resigned from his $132,000 per annum position as CEO of the Second Mile charity, the entity Jerry Sandusky founded and, allegedly, used for 34 years as a place to meet and groom young boys. Raykovitz was the highest-paid employee of said charity and had been CEO for the past 28 years. Selfless Jack issued a statement saying he hoped his resignation was the beginning of a “restoration of faith in the community of volunteers and staff” at Second Mile.
His wife, executive vice president Katherine Genovese, is the second-highest-paid personhood at the Second Mile charity, earning $100,000, and has been with the charity for 27 years. The couple has been employed by Second Mile for a total of 55 years, so you can imagine their complete surprise when learning of Sandusky’s arrest on 40 counts of sex crimes. The Box is pleased to report that Ms. Genovese has decided to soldier on with her job helping troubled young boys with their pedophile problems while learning geography at the same time. Go, girl.