April 29, 2009

I Hate Matkot
Giv'atayim, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

I truly despise this game, and hate it even more for its increasing popularity.

Matkot, literally "racquets," is considered by most to be Israeli's national sport. I was first unhappily exposed to on the beaches of Brazil (it's found pretty much anywhere you can find the combination of an Israeli and a beach), and is just one of those games you wish you could uninvent.

There's nothing worse than spending a day at the beach, wondering if you or your infant are going to get painfully pelted with a ball. There's a degree of civility and respect involved with many sports that crossover into beach life, but matkot is certainly not one of them.

The rules are simple. Take two or more players and give them paddles (racquets) made of wood. Take the same ball used with the game of squash, and instruct the participants to hit the ball directly at each other with the maximum amount of force they can conjure up. Optional: Keep score.

That's it. Now, imagine this scene played out, but on a shoreline saturated with men doing exactly the same thing: hyper-aggressively hammering this ball towards each other with complete disregard for the people around them.

As a bystander in Rio, it was often a painful process just to get near the water, as countless Brazilian clones in black Speedos either slammed a projectile at each other with their paddles or their feet (soccer). It's marginally better in Tel Aviv, but on the right stretch of beach it's practically just as bad.

Elsewhere on the 'net: Matkot: Israel's Unofficial National Sport (Beach Paddleball)


The United States


August 14th, 2009

I agree - the beach calls for more relaxing games, like Bocce.

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