There’s such a thing as kayak polo in the same way that there’s such a thing as kid’s sports organized by adults.
There’s such a thing as BoatBall in the same way that kids with a stick and a rock will occasionally play ball together.

If you have some kayakers, the requisite gear, a lake, a couple of floats attached to a couple of weights, a kayak polo ball or similarly sized tough ball, and everyone agrees to play nice, then you can play boatball.
Easy. Two teams. We have, in the past, tried to visually separate the teams with sets of XXL T-shirts (to fit over PFDs) and with Do-Rags over our helmets, but really, this is sandlot sports. Just remember who’s on your team, alright?

One team ‘kicks off’ to the other, and the ball’s in play. When you catch or pick up the ball, you cannot paddle. When multiple players reach in to pick up a ball, the paddles come away. No using paddles to shove boats or other players. You can use a paddle to block a pass, but not at the expense of anyone’s fingers. The paddle rules are probably the most important and the most broken. It’s tough to get into the heat of a game and let go of that paddle to do something else.

One can ‘dribble’, meaning you can toss the ball ahead of you and paddle to it, stop paddling long enough to throw it again and paddle to it. This is nearly impossible in a crowd, of course. The long pass often sets up some lucky player to try out these yards-eating moves. When everyone is clumped up around one end-zone, and a defensive player can hurl the ball halfway down the ‘court’ to a teammate, that teammate has some room to work for a minute. Only a minute, of course, because that whole crowd that used to be lumped up at one end is coming after him now, hoping to reach him before he scores. Once the crowd forms, and he has the ball, he (or she, you know what I mean) can use his (or her, whatever.) hands to steer or even set the ball on his spray skirt and try to make distance by paddling with his hands. Or you can pass to another teammate. Things move fast.

He, or anyone else for that matter, scores by carrying the ball or completing a pass with the ball across the imaginary line upon which a float is sitting. Remember those big bouncy toys you had a kid- the giant rubber balls with a handle molded into it? Those work well. You tie a rope into the handle and tie a boat anchor of some kind to the other end of the rope.

That’s where the ‘Play Nice’ part of this article comes in. If you’ve got people who are dead invested in Who Wins to the point that they’ll argue a pass and whether the line is “here” or six inches from “here” and whether the point is earned or not, then you don’t have a BoatBall game happening. You have AngryPaddlerBall happening. The BoatBallers here in town are notoriously bad at keeping up with the score, and as time to leave the park draws near, a player usually shouts “Next point wins!” and it’s on. The next point wins… unless it happens too fast and then everyone says, “Whoever makes the NEXT point wins!” and it’s on again.

Ten minutes later when everyone is loading boats onto their cars, it doesn’t matter who won, because everyone is still a paddler, the teams were different last week and they’ll be different again next week. AngryPaddlerBall players will either learn to relax or go play something else eventually.

So. BoatBall games generate wonderful stories. The time that everyone is wired up and play has been so fast and furious that when a goose flys just overhead, he’s nearly brained by a player who thought he was a ball being passed and acted automatically. The time that one player sees a lazy pass being set up that will pass just out of his reach and lurches out of his boat, managing to run off his own bow and interfere with the pass. The time that a player did three handrolls, clutching the ball, to alternating sides of his boat trying to get a clear pass. Maybe you have to be there for these stories to be any good, and that’s what this is about. You. Your friends. Go play BoatBall.