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Great American (Irish, or South African) Pastime

It’s opening day at Fenway Park in Boston, and there’s a buzz of excitement as a new season of America’s greatest pastime begins. Sure the home team isn’t doing so well yet, but any true Red Sox fan would tell you, “they’ll get better”. Baseball holds a special place in American history, as does Fenway Park itself, which is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year.

I asked two of Interstudy‘s Resident Staff members in Ireland and South Africa about favorite pastimes in their countries. Here’s a look at what you should expect to see on TV at a local pub near campus:

A distinctly Irish pastime, according to our Resident Director, Coleman, is hurling. Hurling is a stick and ball game, and has some elements of hockey and lacrosse. The fastest and oldest field sport in the world, hurling is played on a square pitch about 140 feet in length, and has a set of goals that are similar to a combination of soccer and American football. Records show evidence that hurling was a regular past-time in Ireland for well over 2,000 years. Early teams fought a bloody match until both sides were bruised and broken. Hurling is today a little bit safer, but players still need to be courageous! This video explains a bit more about the sport:

South Africa
When I asked our Assistant Resident Director, NJ, about the favorite South African pastime, his response was not as definitive as Coleman’s. NJ gave me three responses – “Rugby, because we win. Soccer, because it’s soccer. And then cricket”. The first documented game of soccer in Africa was actually played in South Africa in 1862. The game came to the continent through British imperialism, but quickly spread as a favorite. According to professor Peter Alegi, of Michigan State University, Africans democratized professional soccer in the 1960’s when the sport was primarily a European and South American game. Africa still struggles with losing it’s best players to other continents as heard in this NPR interview with Alegi during his time at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermartizburg:

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