Right this minute in Indianapolis, Indiana, some dogs are chasing down tennis balls like nobody’s business. I know, I know. At any given moment, dogs are chasing tennis balls pretty much everywhere. But what’s going down in Indiana is no ordinary game of fetch, guys. It’s called flyball, and it’s a legit sport.
Flyball is a team relay event in which dogs take turns running over hurdles to fetch tennis balls out of special springboard boxes. You kind of have to see it to appreciate it, which I’ve gotten to do on a few occasions. It’s impressive, guys. And loud. There’s a lot of barking, because the dogs are all super stoked and happy to be playing ball. So yeah, loud. But mostly impressive. Trust.
As chaotic as it sounds, flyball is one of the most organized spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. The dogs are super focused and know exactly where to go. There’s no crossing lanes or stealing one another’s tennis balls (not usually, anyway). Clearly a lot of training goes into their performance. At a flyball tournament, the humans (“handlers”) stand calmly by, loading and reloading balls into the boxes while the dogs do their thing. But don’t be fooled. These people have spent hours upon hours working with their dogs to make it all look totally effortless. Why? Because they love hanging out with their pets, obvs.
Flyball was invented in California in the 1970’s, and as I mentioned before, it’s a serious thing. There are referees, sponsors, rules and organized tournaments. Yes, there’s even a Hall of Fame.
Today, tomorrow and Sunday, Indianapolis is hosting the North American Flyball Association’s CanAm Classic, which is only the largest flyball competition in the world. Like, officially. In 2010, the CanAm Classic set the Guinness World Record for the “Largest Flyball Tournament.” The official headcount of participating dogs was 810. Whoa. That’s A LOT of dogs. (And even more tennis balls.)
Best of luck to all the dogs and handlers competing this weekend!
To learn more about flyball and see these amazing canine athletes in action, check out the video below: