Inside Whirlyball: Chicago's Weirdest Sport

Inside Whirlyball: Chicago's Weirdest Sport

Before I visited Chicago for my DMC training as a new employee, I had never played Whirlyball. In fact, I had never heard of Whirlyball until the week prior. I was excited to have the chance to play last week during a DMC activity fund event. It’s a fun tradition for the Chicago office. After trying it myself, I decided to spend some time researching this unique “sport”.

Whirlyball Origins

Despite its conception in Salt Lake City in the 1960's, there is a complete lack of properly outfitted Whirlyball facilities in my native southwestern U.S. I first thought that there may be some correlation between Whirlyball availability and regional lacrosse ability, but the presence of a location in Dallas in conjunction with the absence of any locations in the Northeast disproved this theory.


This hybrid mashup of bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball was totally alien to me. All ball handling is performed using a 'scoop', which looks like a sawed-off piece of lacrosse equipment. I used to play tennis, and I assumed that the requisite hand-eye coordination involved in using a racquet effectively would bridge to using the scoop. Not so. I only managed to pick up the ball once, and after having done so, I grossly overestimated how much force would be required to pass the Wiffle ball ten feet to my teammate who was in perfect position to score a Whirlic. For those who don't know, a Whirlic is the primary method of earning points in Whirlyball. The only other ways to score involve being fouled by a member of the opposing team.

Despite the fact that the most gracious thing that could be said for my performance was that I wasn't an active detriment to my team, I had a blast playing! Now I just need to figure out how to get some solid scoop-handling practice in before the next time I play…

Photo of DMC Chicago playing Whirlyball

Whirlyball Miscellany

While researching the sport on Wikipedia to learn the proper terminology to write this article, I learned a couple of interesting things. First, there are advanced maneuvers for me to attempt the next time I play with names like “roll-offs” and “wall bouncing.” I also learned that the “pillow block” was one of the few positive contributions I brought to the court. 

DMC isn’t quite ready for the professional Whirlyball stage, but I found out that players at the national level prefer Trac Ball scoops over the standard Flo-Tron scoops. I now have a new bucket list entry: Watch the national Whirlyball championship!

Photo of DMC Chicago employees ready to play Whirlyball


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