The National Sport Of: France
You’re laughing already, aren’t you? It’s unavoidable. The word ‘boules’ is intrinsically funny (it sounds like balls!), and when you add this to the fact that the word ‘France’ was also mentioned… well, you’re guaranteed some hilarity with this article, for sure! And that’s almost a guarantee! Well, actually, that is a guarantee, due to the use of the word ‘guaranteed’ in ‘guaranteed some hilarity’. I’ve put myself into a box, here, with no way out apart from success. Oh dear.
What Is It?
Boules is a sport which perfectly sums up the French attitude to everything. For a start, the game is based upon a central premise that keeps the players far away from where the action is. This then means that they are safe from any accidents occurring during play, and also gives them a head start in case they need to retreat at any point. It rewards the player who isn’t very strong, and who uses a limp wrist for maximum effect, and is one of the only sports where wearing a beret does not hinder one’s ability to play in any form.
Boules is a one on one game which leaves neither player feeling particularly satisfied afterwards, which I’m informed is another French trait, and is taken in turns. The first player throws a small white ball a short way into the distance, and the two then take turns attempting to throw several other balls at it. The player who gets their balls closest to the little white one is the winner. There aren’t many jokes about boules which don’t resort to classic double-entendre, but we’ll try to keep out of that particular area, for the sake of the children. When playing you can take one of several different route: you can wait until the last throw to knock everyone else out of the way and earn the victory, or you can try to form a protective barrier over a number of throws so that nobody can dislodge your balls. From the white. Ahem. This is one of the few games where a player can leave halfway through to buy some more toasted bread and choc au pains, and return without any serious long-term effect on your score.
Why Doesn’t Britain Care?
The obvious answer lies in the location of the game: France. Britain and France are eager enemies, ever since Britain repeatedly saved France from being invaded/ruling the World back in the good old days. If you don’t believe that Britain and France really hate each other, look no further than the 2012 Olympics. What other reason could Britain have for wanting them, other than to make France fail in their quest to win them? It is an honest hatred that the countries have for each other. And for the French to expect us – the bold and brave heroes of humanity – to sit down in the dust and throw balls along the ground? What a madness! What a cheek they have!
But that’s not the real answer, although many would abstain from the game for precisely this reason. Boules has never been the most delicate of events, all things considered. There is no formal uniform, no break for lunch and tea (the nerve of these people!) and the winner is judged by the competitors themselves. There isn’t a referee with a measuring tape or ruler, coming along to rescue the day with a bold answer as to who has won. Oh no. It is the very model of savage gameplaying, with players forced to fend for themselves in the wild. This does not appeal to the British sensibility, which is why we invented our own game. A superior game.
Not for us; the hefty throwing and vulgar lack of rules. No, we find a long stretch of grass and roll the balls down it, and then at the end of each round we have a referee judge using measuring apparatus the range of each ball from the white one, so that a winner can be decided impartially. And whenever either player gets tired, they are permitted to take a rest, during which they can go off for an ice-cream or perhaps even a spot of hot tea. It is civilised, it is British, and it is far better than anything the French have to offer us.
We call this game… bowls.