Team handball has had a staggered life at the Olympics, being introduced in the 1930s, then used as a demonstration sport in the 1950s, and finally added in the 1970s.

Team Handball and the Olympics

Team handball has had a staggered life at the Olympics, being introduced in the 1930s, then used as a demonstration sport in the 1950s, and finally added in the 1970s. Team handball originated in Scandinavia and Germany, and developed in the late 800s. It was first considered a sport in 1910 in Sweden. The first world championships were held in 1938, but it was first played in the Olympics at the 1936 Games in Berlin. Two alternative team versions competed for dominance through the 1960s. One version involved eleven players per side, and a newer version (played indoors) involved seven players per side. In 1972 team handball made it’s official return to the Games for the first time since 1936. Women’s handball was added in 1976 at the Montreal Games.

During the 2012 London Games, Team Handball will be played on August 11 and 12, with a total of two gold medals up for grabs.

MSU Handball Court

Handball at Michigan State

Some individuals may not realize that there are two types of handball commonly played. Team handball, which is played at the Olympics, involves seven players on each side of a court. The players attempt to thrown a ball through the other team’s goal. There is an alternative, known as American handball. In this version players bounce a ball off a wall (or walls) and try to prevent their opponent from reaching it. American handball includes three versions (four-wall, three-wall, and one-wall) and can be played with two players (singles), three players (cut-throat), or four players (doubles). American handball is also known as Gaelic handball. Players wear leather gloves and play with a hard rubber ball.

MSU has an American handball club, which typically plays the 4-wall version of handball. The The goal is to hit the front wall with the ball, bouncing off the other walls and ceiling (but not the floor!) if necessary. The MSU handball club is based in IM East. They have previously placed 4th at Division 1 nationals, and won the Division 2 National Championship. The team just completed their fourth season and is lead by coach Carl Valentino (BS 1969, Physical Education; MA 1976, Educational Administration).

Photo Credits: All photos provided by the MSU Handball Club.

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