The Social and Nostalgic Dynamic of Competitive Skeeball

Upon hearing about competitive skeeball, one’s first reaction might be “Wait a minute, isn’t that a kid’s game?” Of course for most of us, it absolutely WAS a kid’s game. As was football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and hockey…

Competitive games matter to us as adults because they are an extension of our childhood. Mention Skeeball to just about anyone in the USA, and you will likely see a smile and a wave of nostalgia wash over their face. It is the games that link us to our childhood that we find ourselves returning to again with joy as adults. Skee Ball brings back memories of carnival rides by the sea shore, cotton candy, birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese’s, chasing our friends around with the joy and pure freedom only kids can truly realize in the moment. Skee Ball is a memory which represents all that was good and pure and simple about growing up, and all that returns to us without even realizing it, every time we pick up a Skee Ball.

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So what happens when you take that wave of nostalgia and combine it with modern America’s most iconic adult social setting, the bar venue? You get a mixture of the joys of childhood with the feeling of pleasure and escape that accompanies hanging out with friends at a bar after a long day’s hard work. You get to combine the simple uplifting joy of a game that we all have a soft spot in our heart for, with a place where we can kick back, relax, drink with good people we care about. Playing competitive Skee Ball frees us from the difficulties and responsibilities from our daily life in those moments in which sport and socialization come together to form a whole, more beautiful than any of our individual parts. In what other game can you take teams of any 3 friends, line them up against people you have just met on machines lined up 2, 3, 5, or even 10 in a row, all with people playing on them as well having a great time? while the beer flows freely and the game itself providing the perfect ice breaker? What other sport can allow the casual player to hold a beer in one hand, and a ball in the other? What other sport is so accessible to the novice, so deceptively simple, offering an endless challenge to master?

Playing Skeeball and Drinking Beer

In my own experience, joining a competitive Skee Ball league began as a lark, a simple, silly experience which I at first in no way took seriously. I found that the game brought people together in a way which made it easy to socialize, gave us all something in common breaking down social barriers, gave me a night to look forward to each week, where I knew I’d be spending time with great people, who enjoy playing the game and much more than that enjoy the community that forms. I have made countless¬†friends, drank many a libation with them, rolled many a game of Skee Ball. Won some, lost some, cheered on and supported my teammates and competitors alike, and have felt a sense of accomplishment from playing in a competitive league rather than merely watching one from my sofa. Now whenever I hold a Skee Ball in my hand, I feel not only that sense of childhood nostalgia wash over me, but also the feeling of kinship and friendship with all those I have met along the way on this unique journey of Skee. Each time I return to the bar, I do so with a smile on my face, knowing I will be greeted by friendships forged over a hundred Skee Ball matches, and hundreds of rounds shared with one another. As much as I love the competition of the game itself, it is this which keeps me returning to play again and again, and which will continue to do so for many nights to come.