Imagine a baseball field. On it there are two teams, infield and outfield, a batter, a pitcher, and four bases. When you think of baseball, perhaps you envision a man swinging his bat, creating a satisfying crack the moment the wood makes contact with the ball. While he is running to as many bases as possible without getting out, one of the outfielders is quickly picking up the ball and throws it to the pitcher in order for the next showdown to begin with a new batter. I’m sure the image you conjured was somewhat representative of a professional team, executing each move proficiently on a clear day in a major leagues stadium. Not having much experience with baseball myself, that’s what I visualized in my head, but now forget that image, and try to picture about twenty semi-coordinated college students playing a similar game for the first time on an open field, all on display for any bystanders to witness some Americans strike out and fall over trying to reach a wooden block for a base.
Brännball (pronounced “broonball” with a roll in the “r”) is honestly not that similar to baseball, except in how it is setup. The rules, you’ll see, are very different. For starters, multiple people can be on one base at any point, and no one gets out.
The way that each team gains points:
Each point is earned when a runner reaches the final base. If a batter “strikes out” after three tries, they advance to base one for that round, and no one is able to run in the hopes of earning points for their team.Each round is timed before teams switch places, however if the infield runs out of batters because none of the runners could make it to home plate in order to replenish the batting lineup, then the round ends early and the teams switch positions.
After the ball is hit, the outfield team throws the ball to their pitcher on his/her base, who must then call out “Bränn” to end the round. If there are players from the infield team still running between bases when “bränn” is said, then they must return to the previous base, and the outfield team gains a point for each player caught running. A point is also earned for each ball caught, but remember no one gets out, so the batter simply cannot go past base one during that round.
I hope these rules make sense! Once we all started playing, the rules became clear, and everyone was having a great time despite being hesitant before starting.
Personally, I think brännball is much more fun to play and watch than baseball because of its fast pace and collective involvement. Everyone is constantly moving, and it can be challenging to reach the next base without giving points to the other team. Much to my delight, people were less focused on winning, with both teams cheering each other on, laughing when mistakes were made, and overall having a great time. Energy levels were low before the start of the game, but my skepticism quickly turned into an enthusiastic desire to play hard, and once the game was over, I agreed that this activity had been a good idea; one that I would gladly participate in again.