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Dodgers broke your heart? Here are other ‘ball’ games that might ease your pain

The inaugural Jai Alai season at The Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida. Photo by Aaron Gilbert
Fast-paced jai alai fell out of favor but is now making a comeback. It’s played at Magic City Casino in Miami.
(Aaron Gilbert)

Now that the Dodgers have broken your heart, perhaps you’re ready for games that are played with a ball that might divert your attention, including pickleball and jai alai. Here are five sports and where you’re likely to find them.

Pickleball

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The 2018 USAPA National Championships Pickleball tournament at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The 2019 championships will begin Nov. 2, also in Indian Wells.
(USAPA)

Pickleball — a hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis — is played on a badminton-size court with a 34-inch-high net. Players volley a perforated plastic ball with a paddle about twice the size of the one used in table tennis. The sport can be played indoors or out, singles or doubles.

Pickleball continues to grow in popularity; tournaments are played throughout the country. In California alone, contests are played this month from Anaheim to Chico.

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The sport is governed by the USA Pickleball Assn. Its National Championships will be Nov. 2-10 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, southeast of Palm Springs.

Info: USA Pickleball Assn., usapa.org

Lawn bowling

Lawn bowling games are fairly similar, although their roots are different. You can find three of the most popular (boccie, lawn bowling or pétanque) at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

Boccie is played with wood, metal or plastic balls and involves rolling a bigger ball toward a smaller ball, called a pallino. The idea is to get your ball as close as possible to the pallino.

The same is true of pétanque, or boules, a bowling game that originated about 1910 in southern France and is often confused with boccie. It uses steel balls — a rolling ball, which is about 3 inches, and a smaller ball, about 1 inch and known as the target.

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For those interested in lawn bowling, the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club offers free lessons at noon most Wednesdays and Saturdays at the park (flat-soled shoes are required).

Info: bit.ly/petanqueSF; sflbc.org

Lacrosse

Lacrosse has huge followings on the East Coast. The enthusiasm for the game on the West Coast is growing, Scott Gelman writes in the Diamondback, the independent student-run newspaper at the University of Maryland. But for now, the East is the hot spot for this fast-paced game played with a long-handled stick with a net that the player uses to catch or throw the ball.

The Eastern enthusiasm explains why the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum is in Sparks, Md., about 23 miles north of Baltimore.

At the museum, visitors can view rare photographs along with vintage equipment, memorabilia and more. The museum has free admission and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Info: bit.ly/lacrossemuseum, uslacrosse.org/about-us-lacrosse/museum

Jai alai

The inaugural Jai Alai season at The Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida. Photo by Aaron Gilbert
Jai alai at the Magic City Casino in Miami.
(Aaron Gilbert)

Jai alai, which uses a cesta, or a “basket-racket” as the Fla-Gaming website calls it, is used to catch and launch a ball against a wall. It was a popular sport before it faded, but it still can be found in the U.S., mostly in Florida.

Magic City Casino in Miami is showcasing a new generation of jai alai players, including many former University of Miami athletes. Performances, as the games are called, are at 3 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 30. Watching jai alai is free, although you can bet on the players.

Info: Magic City Casino, magiccitycasino.com/jai-alai

Underwater rugby

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Think rugby’s tough? Trying playing it underwater as the Boston Narwhals do.
(Kimberly Forest)
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Underwater rugby consists of two teams of six players each (two goalies, two defenders and two forwards) trying to score a goal at the bottom of the pool, which may be as deep as 16 feet. Players wear a mask, snorkel and fins.

An underwater rugby team in Boston, known as the Boston Narwhals, welcomes people to their practices and allows them to try out the sport for themselves. The team will compete for the Underwater Rugby Champions Cup Nov. 22-24 in Berlin.

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Think rugby’s tough? Trying playing it underwater as the Boston Narwahals do.
(Kimberly Forest)

Info: Underwater Rugby, underwaterrugby.org


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