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The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

Spikeball’s Surge

Spikeball’s journey from a backyard game to a recognized sport
Many+passionate+students+played+spikeball+on+the+quad+during+the+Bishop%E2%80%99s+Lucky+Ducklings+Spikeball+Tournament+from+February+27+to+29%2C+2024.+
Luming Wang (’27)
Many passionate students played spikeball on the quad during the Bishop’s Lucky Ducklings Spikeball Tournament from February 27 to 29, 2024.

On the Bishop’s quad, the air is filled with contagious joy as middle school and high school students watch the competition unfold. Each forceful strike against the net bounces the ball to opponents. Eager students form a crowd as the rally intensifiers. The quad transforms into an arena. 

Spikeball is a sport that was popularized by Spikeball Inc. in recent years and was first created by Jeff Knurek, a toy maker, who didn’t patent his invention until 1989. As time went on, the game slowly began to lose popularity; so in 2008, Chris Ruder (who is now the CEO and founder of Spikeball Inc) and his friends launched Spikeball Inc. in an attempt to revive the sport.They renamed it “roundnet” to protect the trademark. This means that Spikeball™ is the brand, and roundnet is the official name for the sport. According to Forbes, Ruder got this idea to revive the decade-old sport in 2013 after playing it in Hawaii and attracting questions from many people. 

Many Bishop’s students are spikeball enthusiasts. Ava Grandinetti (‘27) said that spikeball is “a great way to decompress after school” while “having a little something to look forward to and playing with my friends.” Angela An (‘27) agreed, “This year, I feel like I’ve really appreciated how sports can relieve stress with spikeball.”

Spikeball is a sport similar to volleyball and four-square and is either played with two teams of two or two teams of one — though most people typically play doubles. Steven Yin (‘24), reigning champion of the Lucky Ducklings spikeball tournament alongside his partner, Spencer Ralph (‘24), said, “I’ve gotten to know so many people at Bishop’s because you often have to grab a partner [to play].” 

Colomba Joulin-Batejat (‘27) added, “It’s a very accessible sport as you just need to buy a net and a ball to play.” Bishop’s also provides spikeball nets for students to play. One team starts the point by serving the ball onto the net, so it bounces to the opposing team. Then, the opposing or returning team has three touches to try to hit the ball back onto the net. Both teams rally until the ball is dead. If the ball hits the rim of the net, or double bounces on the net, the opposing team gets the point instead. 

This sport also has health benefits, according to Roundnet HQ. Colomba said, “it’s a great source of exercise as you do move a lot while playing.” Playing spikeball can improve hand-eye coordination, burn calories which in turn improves the cardiovascular system, and is a great way to have fun with friends and family. 

Spikeball has become a passion to many individuals, and that applies to Spencer. In fact, he even decided to bring the sport to campus during the 2021-2022 school year— his sophomore year.He explained, “it’s always the best when you are really passionate about something, and you put that passion to a cause.” This year, the Lucky Ducklings Club at Bishop’s hosted a spikeball tournament for the third year to serve as a fundraiser for the homeless community. 

But, how did spikeball rise in popularity? On May 15th, 2015, Spikeball Inc., headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, aired on Shark Tank. The day it aired, the episode gained 7 million views, and Daymond John offered a deal of $500,000 for 20% of the company, which later fell apart, but it still boosted the company tremendously. According to Shark Tank Blog, Spikeball Inc.’s annual revenue during January 2023 was $19 million, compared to 2003, where they only had an annual revenue of $1 million, according to Forbes

Spikeball is now played all around the world, with the United States being the country with most players. Other countries include Japan, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Czechia, France, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Latvia, and Finland. According to ESPN, spikeball had 4 million players worldwide in 2018. 

Spencer said, “I definitely think it’s growing, like pickleball, in a way where it’s becoming a potentially commercial or professional event.” There are many professional spikeball teams around the world including hundreds of tournaments for all skill levels. Some of these corporations include the International Roundnet Federation (IRF), the USA Roundnet (USAR), and the European Roundnet Association (EURA).

The EURA is a non-profit organization with the goal of making spikeball grow as a sport, similar to the IRF, USAR, and many other corporations. They have goals of having uniform rules and allowing international competitions. USAR serves as the National Governing Body (NGB) for spikeball within the United States. In addition, the IRF believes that spikeball has lots of potential and aims for it to become an Olympic sport in the future. 

With the rapid rise of spikeball, the goal for it to become an Olympic sport might come to fruition in the future. Colomba said she wants spikeball to be in the Olympics. “It’s really fun to watch [spikeball players] dive into the ground as it’s very intense. It’s very engaging and there’s never a boring moment, there’s no clock, they just play,” she said. 

On the other hand, Steven believes that spikeball would be a hard sport to watch on such a high level, since the area where they play is small compared to many other sports. He added, “the rules are kind of ambiguous in terms of what’s a pocket, how they will make the ball and net regulation, what’s a rim, what’s a hold, and such.” There are many professional spikeball leagues, so many tournaments and organizations, such as the USAR, have their own rules, which is not as professional as other sports.

Similar to other sports, spikeball has its own unique craft. Spencer said, “What’s fun about spikeball is that it’s not just a sport, but a version of board games and more strategy to it than people give it credit for.” Ava also likes the strategy of spikeball. There are so many different hits… ways to play… [and] playing styles… it’s just a lot of different variables.” She added, “My favorite part of spikeball is the team aspect… it’s a shared happiness.”

Even minor things can have the power to bring joy to others. Steven said his favorite instance while playing is “that moment when you do something unexpected… when you don’t expect it [the ball] to land on the net, and it does. Or when… your opponent is playing really well, but you and your teammate are also playing seamlessly.” 

Spikeball, a beloved sport for numerous, has risen from the shadows and grown popular as it is today. To many, spikeball is not just a sport, but a hobby, a time to make new friends, and a way to make endless unforgettable memories.

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About the Contributor
Luming Wang
Luming Wang, Staff Writer
Luming Wang is a freshman and a staff writer for The Tower. During her freetime, Luming likes to play tennis, watch Marvel movies, and cheer on her favorite NBA team: the Golden State Warriors. Her favorite Marvel movies are “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Captain America and The Winter Soldier”. At school, Luming enjoys math and spending time with her friends. 

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