Members of eight area communities gathered earlier this month at the Lee County Shuffleboard Club (next to the North Fort Myers Recreation Center) to compete for individual honors at the season finale.
Nearly 30 teams battled it out under unusually cold conditions to be named winners in the main event and consolation divisions.
Leage President Pete Longjohn said the purpose of the league is to build bonds in the other communities when giving them an opportunity for some exercise and competition.
“Everyone is guaranteed two games. The winners go on to the main draw, while the losers go to the consolation. There will be 16 people (eight teams) who earn awards,” Longjohn said.
Longjohn said there were two main problems. One was the condition of the approaches on each of the lanes, which he said was too slippery.
The other, which has more long-term ramifications, is that the communities are slowly finding it more difficult to find people to play the game.
Longjohn said the 28 teams they had was about 10 short of what is usual because of the cold and the event was competing with another tournament. There were also only eight teams this season, as opposed to 10 last year.
It’s a game played almost exclusively by people 60 and over. Longjohn said that most newer seniors are finding other things to do with their time.
“The interest is here and the people get along well and look forward to going to the different parks,” Longjohn said. “Some of these communities can’t get enough people. They’d rather have motorcycles.”
The future of the sport will rely on the likes of Paul Blume, who plays for Tamiami Village with his wife. For the Blumes, who winter here from Illinois, it’s their first year in the league.
“We’ve really enjoyed it and have learned so much about it. We’re playing against people who are much better than us,” Blume said. “We practice about four days a week. There’s a lot more strategy to it than people realize. You have to learn when to block and when to score.”
Donald Woods, of Pioneer Village, has played for 20 years. He said it’s more than the competition that attracts him.
“I’ve met a lot of people and it’s something for us to do. All winter long we get exercise and it’s an outing. If you can’t afford to play golf, you play shuffleboard,” Woods said.
For the 28th straight year, the league was sponsored by Ellsworth Heating & Cooling, which helps put on the end-of-year banquet, held last week.
Sent along by Bob Weber. Posted by Stan McCormack. 2017 03 31.