Bocce ball is actually an ancient sport that goes back to games played in the Roman Empire. The word “bocce” stems from the vulgar Latin “Bottica”, which is a direct root of the Italian word “Bocce”. The first true documented case of Bocce Ball was in a 5200 B.C. painting that showed two boys playing. English scientist Sir Francis Petrial discovered it in an Egyptian tomb.
Bocce is also thought of to take its name from the Italian word boccia which means “bowl” in a sports sense. Around 600 B.C., the game was picked up in Greece and was eventually passed on to the Romans. People would play the game just about anywhere. From the churches, streets or castles it was played by people of all ages, men or women.
Greek colonists brought the game with them to what is now modern Italy. However, Bocce was threatened with being outlawed when nobleman passing by games being played on the streets were struck by Bocce balls on their knees. This was unfortunate for the humbler people playing the game but ended up providing much attention to the sport. Soon after, Bocce became a favorite pastime to Italian noblemen.
Around 1319 A.D., Bocce Ball was actually forbidden to people of lower nobility because it was felt that it diverted attention from more important tasks, such as archery and war training. In 1519, Bocce became a public game. It was played in Flanders, Holland and Belgium.
A man named Giuseppe Garibaldi actually had a lot to do with how Bocce is played today. Garibaldi was an Italian general, politician and nationalist who played a large role in the history of Italy. While unifying and nationalizing Italy, he also popularized the sport as it is known today.
In the year 1896, when Bocce had a resurgence of popularity, the first Bocce Olympiad was held in Athens, Greece. Bocce has been a part of international sports ever since.
In the beginning, Bocce was played in a crude form by using rounded rocks, or even coconuts. The modern game utilizes either a form of composite or metal balls. During the years, the sport has been referred to by many different names. It has been called lawn bowling, 9 pins, skittles and petanque, just to name a few. There have also been many rule changes over time.
Bocce has become much more popular in America since sweeping California in 1989. There are over 25,000,000 Bocce enthusiasts that have either heard of the sport, play recreationally, or play on structured courts in the United States today.
Bocce has also become a tournament sport. Many times, tournaments are held on a weekly basis, some carrying large cash awards for their winners. Bocce is now a part of the World Corporate Games, is an event in the Special Olympics, and is being proposed to be in the Olympics.
Bocce can be played upon any type of level surface by anyone who is willing to try. It is a game for all ages, gender and athletic ability. It is considered an extremely versatile game in which the rules may be changed according to the players. Play may range from a nearly nonexistent set of rules to the strictest of tournament rules.
Basic Rules of Bocce
Bocce for the regular participant is quite simple. There can be anywhere from two to four to eight players on a team. Each player receives two balls (boccia). A player continues to roll their balls until they get closer than the opponent’s ball. Players are awarded one point for each ball closer than the opponent’s closest ball nearest to the pallino ball (the smallest ball, which has already been thrown onto the field). Players can also throw on the fly (volo), striking the ball to move the point ball. Balls, including the pallino, may also be displaced by the balls of other players. Bocce is an inexpensive game to play and involves thought and strategy. The game can be enjoyed by family and friends to bring them together for fun and enjoyment.
There are a variety of ways that you and your family can become involved with the game of Bocce. Games can be played anywhere, a park, backyard or just about any flat location with enough space. Locations are also known to be springing up at country clubs and commercial recreational centers.
The World Bocce League was formed to encourage people to play and become involved in Bocce.