By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer
There is something incredibly therapeutic about aggressively smacking a ball over and over again with a friend or two, or alone. Racquetball is that wonderful sport. Most people I talk do not know we have this hilariously repetitive sport on campus, but we do. It’s in the back of the Johnson Fitness Center and you can rent the rackets and a blue rubber ball at the front desk. The room is a rectangle with red lines dividing the court if you wish to play by the rules. The goal is to hit the ball against the wall and on the rebound have it hit the ground past the red line towards you. What this means during the game is you mainly have two options, be competitive and set up shots that are low to the ground and likely to fail on the second hit, or to be cooperative and try and keep the ball alive for as long as possible.
If you want to play by the rules, you should stand in-between the two red lines near the opposite wall, the serving zone. After serving, like tennis, it is now your opponent’s job to keep the ball alive. However, I really prefer the cooperative opportunity of working with the other person as it not only keeps the game more active but works up more of a sweat.
Health experts agree that racquetball is an intensely physical activity that can burn 400 to 1000 calories an hour, utilizing most muscle groups. If you’re not used to moving in the ways the game needs, your first racquetball session, depending on your level of engagement, will leave you aching all over. Particularly, after my first game I felt aches in my sides that didn’t go away for two days, as those are muscle groups that are under-utilized.
The game reminds of the Myth of Sisyphus, where a man, Sisyphus, is cursed to continuously roll a boulder up a hill to have it fall back down again. Absurdist philosopher Albert Camus utilized this mythological story to represent the struggles of life and how we should accept that most of our efforts will fail and we should celebrate it. The rolling boulder action is actually just hitting the rubber ball away from oneself, but it always comes back. Whenever I am stressed or down about the results of my efforts I take out my frustration on the philosophically profound game of racquetball. The game is more fun played with others because alone it become existentially depressing.
I recommend everyone try the therapeutic game of racquetball with a friend or two. You will end up sweaty, panting, and aching all over but with a new and profound view on life. Also, fair warning, take off your glasses before you play or invest in prescription goggles if you don’t want to have to pop your lens back into the frames and drive two hours to the opticians to have your expensive frames fixed.