Reporting Liz Collin
PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — Ask some kids if they like Gaga, and you may not hear about music. A sport, called Gaga Ball, is suddenly very popular at camps around the country.
Gaga Ball an Israeli game that’s been around for 30 years, but it’s been booming lately with the help of Minnesota business.
Gaga means “touch touch” in Hebrew. It’s been played at Jewish camps for years, but took off a few years ago when somebody wrote an article about it in a camp director’s journal.
In Prior Lake, they offer dozens of activities at Camp Kici Yapi, but Gaga is the busiest.
“It’s one of the things they first ask for in the morning,” said camp director Benjamin Theisen Escobar.
Both of the camp’s Gaga pits are full from the start of the day to the end.
The game itself is a bit like dodge ball, with some rules that make it better for kids of all ages and abilities.
“It is very different in a sense that you’re not running in a large space, you’re running in a very confined small space, and there’s rules about where you can hit,” said Escobar.
Players slap the ball rather than throwing it, can only hit below the waist and games last five minutes or less.
“As a camp director, it’s nice to have a game that’s very enclosed, very controlled, but everyone’s having a blast,” said Escobar.
Minnesota’s “Sports Resources” got in on the ground floor of the boom, taking plastic corners it already used for hockey rinks to make portable gaga pits, at about $4,000 apiece.
“We sold eight gaga pits six or seven years ago when we started. We’re selling two to three a week now for all summer, so we’ll sell 50, 60 gaga pits this year alone,” said Chris Guertin with the Sport Resources Group.
Gaga now accounts for 25 percent of sales. It’s impressive because hockey rinks cost six times as much as gaga pits — all because of a game that kids and camp directors love, but most parents have never heard of.