Brännboll (pronounced IPA| [ˈbrɛnbɔl] ) is a game similar to
rounders, baseball, lapta and pesäpalloplayed on amateurlevel throughout Sweden, Norwayand Denmark, mostly on meadows and in public parks, but it is also part of the PE curriculum in some areas.
Differences from baseball
The main difference from baseball is that there is no pitcher, instead the batter himself hits the ball, usually a common
tennis ball, with his bat. The bat is sometimes a wooden baseball bat, but less experienced players may use a flat paddle-like version (often disparagingly called "kärringracket" hag-bat, "tjejträ" girl-bat etc. mainly by boys). There are also no constraints to the playing field. However a too crooked ball hit will result in a strike. The batter has three (sometimes two) strikes to get a valid hit or he is forced to go to the first base and the turn is given to the next batter in line. After batting, the batter drops the bat and makes his way counter-clockwise around the four positioned bases, while the outfield players – who do not wear gloves – try to catch the ball and throw it to an appointed "burner", belonging to their team. The "burner" ("Brännaren") needs to hold the ball in his hand, while simultaneously stepping on a small board on the ground – resembling the pitcher's plate, in baseball – and yell "Bränd" ("Burned"), which ends the round. If the infield runner(s) are by then not positioned on a "base" they are "burned" and forced to go back to the first base or the previous passed base depending on rules (a person on his way to the first base may not be burned). A game is played in timed periods, often 2 or 4, and the teams switch sides in between them. However, if there is only one player left to bat and no player makes it to the fourth base during that round, or the last batter fails to produce a valid hit in his two attempts, the team is "burnt out" ("utebrända"), and the opposite team either gets a predetermined amount of bonus points (and all on the team gets back in line for batting) or the time period ends and the teams shift sides.
A point system is kept by a standing score keeper, who gives points to the outfield team if they burn a player, or if they catch the ball before it touches ground ("Lyra" in Swedish). Extra points may be awarded if the ball is caught with one hand. The infield team receive points when one of their players has "come home" after running the full lap, with possible extra point awarded if the batter runs a "free lap" ("frivarv" - similar to a home run in baseball).
Here's one example of a point system used, although due to the lack of professional organization and set rules, these could vary wildly between regional usage and traditions.
*Frivarv (free lap, home run) - 3 points
*Utebränning (burned out) - 5 points
*Bränd (burned) - 1 point
*Lyra (catch the ball before it hits the ground) - 3 points
*Varvning (reach the final base) - 1 point
A common variation of the game is ölbrännboll (beer brännboll). The rules for this game varies profusely over different regions, times and often even during a single game. The common part being that some time during the game beer is to be drunk by the players, often very much so and preferably by some set of rules giving the players directions for when to drink. A few classic variations are:
- At every base beer awaits and a gulp (or full can in the highschool version) must be had
- At every point made, the team given the point may and/or must drink a gulp
- At every point made, the team not given the point must drink a gulp
- At random, anyware in the game, any given amount of beer is to be drunk by who ever feels like it
The last one of these is the standard outcome of any of the original set of rules after a few turns.
While not being an organized sport with teams and a league, it is appreciated by children of all ages during, in schools or after, or by friends after work play for fun.
There is also since 1974 an annual Students World Championship tournament held in the northern city of
Umeå, whereby some standardized rules are followed. The world championship is called Brännbollscupenwhich is followed by the festival Brännbollsyran.
Branboll is enjoyed by elementary schoolchildren in the American Upper Midwest (particularly
Minnesota), due to the area's large Scandinavian influence.
A similar game, Brennball, is popular in PE classes at German schools. It's usually played indoors, with a larger ball (such as a Volleyball or a Basketball) and without a bat; batting is replaced by throwing. The bases are usually far larger than in Baseball and more than one player can be on the same base at the same time. German Brennball is rarely played outside a PE setting.
* [http://www.brennball.de/english/ English language site about brännboll]
* [http://www.brennball.de/english/rules.htm The rules of the game with an illustration of the playing field]
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