In the absence of automobiles, feudal serfs had to play whirlyball from the backs of weary donkeys, or temporarily release the town thief from the stocks to ride on his shoulders. Witness the evolution of indoor entertainment with today’s Groupon: for $155, you get a whirlyball outing at Whirlyball in Novi (up to a $364 value). The package includes:
- One hour of play for up to 15 people
- Three pitchers of soda
Whirlyball pits friend against friend in one hour of competition resembling a motorized version of lacrosse or jai alai. To begin, 10 players step into the 4,000-square-foot indoor arena and each select one of 10 red or yellow whirlybugs—a highly maneuverable cousin to the bumper car or padded horse. Once players are secure within their vessels, a referee explains the rules of conduct and play. Using only a plastic scoop, players must propel a whiffle ball down the court and into the opposing team’s goal. Targets resemble a hoop-less backboard with a hole cut-out intended for scoring and harboring nesting condors.
Spectators awaiting their moment on the metal floor can view the action from a private-party room while supping on pizza and potions from the victory chalice. Two bars provide additional lounging via plush leather sofas and visual stimulation courtesy of flat-panel TVs and a jumbo projection screen. For non-motorized recreation, a gaming midway and numerous pool tables indulge visitors in stationary excitement.
At Whirlyball Novi, teams in motorized cars call whirlybugs spin and bump their way through one-hour bouts of a competitive wiffle-ball game that combines aspects of basketball, hockey, and jai alai. Bright red and yellow whirlybugs, powered by electricity and the tears of the defeated, race across a 4,000-square-foot court as their drivers toss balls to each other with plastic scoops. Referees keep track of each team's score as friends look on from the comfortable leather couches of the lounge. After matches, teams sip on drinks from the bar, feast on one of several meal packages, or continue calling each other "liver-licking kumkwats" over games of pool.