While the exact history of shuffleboard is unknown, it was made popular by King Henry VIII of England. It is a sport in which you use “tangs” to push “biscuits” 52 feet across a court in an effort to outscore your opponent.
While Henry VIII forbid commoners from playing, several groups in the Lima area are trying to make the sport much more common.
The High School Shuffleboard League completed its inaugural season with its “state” final four teams of Bath, Shawnee, Ottawa-Glandorf and Elida competing for the crown. The league of 10 teams also included local high schools such as Lima Central Catholic, Celina and Wapakoneta.
In the finals, Shawnee beat Bath in sudden death by a score of 20-16 to emerge the boy’s “state” champions, while Lima Bath won the girls event 36-20. While it technically was not a state championship, the 16 athletes participating Thursday approached it as if it were.
Logan Rex, captain of the Bath team, said the league started in March this year and is now finishing its season. A tournament was held earlier in May to narrow down to the final four.
“I find it to be a very interesting sport,” Rex said. “We were surprised with how much interest there was.”
Alex Baker of the Shawnee team said he was talking with Rex recently at a track meet. They had a long list of possible sports to choose from, and they finally decided on shuffleboard.
“We have been friends for a long time, and we just kind of went down a long list,” Baker said. “We were surprised with how fast it grew.”
The sport is catching on elsewhere throughout the region, also. The Bluffton Shuffleboard Club recently formed and had a free demonstration/open house at Buckeye Park in Bluffton. The club meets regularly throughout the summer for informal mixers at 4 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. Mondays and Saturdays. That clubs hosts seven tournaments throughout the season.
The sport has caught on in some areas, prompting the formation of the National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame in 1995, which has now inducted 12 people. Billy Mays is usually considered the Babe Ruth of the sport.
Shuffleboard has several organizations that host sanctioned events throughout the United States. However, it has not caught on as an official high school sport yet. Local players still remain hopeful.
“That would be great,” Baker said. “It is a growing sport.”
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