Holmes County to host Amish Mud B-ball Tourney

I just got off the phone with an Amish friend, “Alvin”, from Holmes County.  I like to call Alvin, a furniture maker, from time to time, to check up on things in Amish Ohio. The big news?  March Madness, or I suppose the Plain equivalent, is apparently heading to Holmes County.

I’ve written a number of times about Amish and sports.  Sports and games are controversial among Amish.  Some feel they should be meant only for children.  Others see them as a healthy youth activity, preferable to the alternatives.

You can’t go far in Amish America without spotting signs of sports.  Many Amish schools feature basketball hoops, as seen in this recent photo collection from Lancaster County.  Softball is ubiquitous, and volleyball is a favorite at Sunday youth singings.  One enthusiast Amishman has decided to take things a step further, and has launched plans for a Plain mud basketball tournament, with the blessing of the church.

amish mud basketball

“The guy had been wanting to do it for years,” explained Alvin.  “I was kind of skeptical about what the bishops would say, but they worked something out.”  As is typical with innovations, church leadership has agreed to allow the Amishman to hold the tournament on an experimental basis.

“Lancaster County gets all the attention this time of year, owing to the Mud Sales,” Alvin noted.  “They’ve been talking to the Chamber of Commerce here, and they’re behind it–they think it could really bump up our tourist numbers.”

“Not everyone is for it, but hey, we’ve got businesses to run and we have to make a living.  You just can’t get by on two dozen cows anymore,” explained Alvin, noting the reality of financial pressures.  “Besides, these kids are going to play anyway, so why not tap into that.”  Gung-ho Alvin, I’ll admit, is not your typical Amishman.  What about skeptics in the community?

“The bishops felt that if we kept it in the barnyard it would keep it from getting too ‘worldly’.  So I think they’re going to make the guys play barefoot,” Alvin explained.  “I’m not sure how well dribbling will work in the mud, but I guess they’ll come up with something!”

“It also fits pretty good with the spring “mud” theme,” Alvin added.  “We’ve really let Lancaster dominate all this mud business!  Maybe this will pull a bit of that traffic back to Ohio.”

I wondered if this wasn’t on account of Holmes County being sore since losing the title of largest Amish settlement to Lancaster County last year.  Alvin assured me it wasn’t.

I asked him if they had a name for the tourney yet–maybe something playing off the March Madness theme?

amish barn basketball

“Actually, since we’re holding it a month later, they’re thinking about calling it the April Fool’s Invite.  So any April Fools out there, feel invited!”

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    1. Just a note–I am not an Amish fiction writer, but one day a year–April Fool’s–I do write Amish fiction (see above)…In reality I haven’t heard anything about any planned Amish mud b-ball tournaments, but sounds like a fun enough idea 😉

      However these photos are in fact of an Amish barn basketball hoop in Holmes County. I took them while visiting Ohio last year. I imagine these are some pretty messy games!

    2. kathy Rowe

      Good one, Erik. You had me believing it until I got to your note 🙂
      Does sound like a fun event.
      You and all the other “Amish America fans” have a great weekend.
      Keep those intesting and informative articles coming!

    3. kathy Rowe

      You had me so engrossed in the article, I couldn’t even spell “interesting” correctly in the above comment. 🙂

    4. Yonie Wondernose

      Aw man Erik

      We already had a competeing Lancaster team called the Mudville Nine chomping at the bit to go to Holmes and compete with the Holmesers not only in Mud ball but also for their chicks.

      The Lancaster Bishops were actually encouraging this, offering one drivers license dispensations, in order to make sure Lancaster stays ahead in population numbers

    5. As I was reading this, I decided Holmes County must be slipping in their mud, I mean in their minds. Imagine playing basketball in their barnyard’s muddy manure.

    6. Marilyn in New York

      I read the whole thing and believed every word that you wrote. All I kept thinking is what were the wife’s and mother’s going to think of all that mud in their wash clothes. It was a good April Fool.

    7. LOL! OK, that was a good one. 🙂

    8. Ralph Peterson

      I know a few there in Holmes County that would do that just for fun. Their mother or wife wouldn’t be too happy though.

    9. OldKat

      Reel me in Erik; I swallowed this line hook & all!

    10. Guys, all I can say is, you aren’t safe anywhere. Even the Amish sites are doing April Fool’s 😉

      Actually, April Fool’s is a pretty good fit with the Amish folks I know.

      BTW I just noticed the broken window panes above the hoop in my first photo. I wonder how those got there?

    11. Yonie, driver’s license dispensation??? If you give a mouse a Cookie…

      Actually, I think you may have just given me my idea for next year’s April 1 post 😉

      Go Mudville 9!

    12. Yonie Wondernose

      Yep keep looking for the mud splattered Nike swoosh

      You could call it Air Yonie

    13. Alice Aber
    14. Leo

      You got me,too. April Fool

    15. Mona

      Too funny Erik, So what’s next ?????

    16. An interesting, but true April Fools was found at a New Order Amish school in Walnut Creek. I was touring with an Amish Study Group from Dayton. We visited the school for observation and One of the students saw on the chalkboard “March 32”. The student asked me, “Do the Amish have a different calendar than us?” seeing what she was referring to I quickley replied, “Yes, its called April Fools!” We both then shared a nod of the head and a smile!

    17. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Erik mentioned the broken windows, maybe the kids are or were poor shots and maybe they have to work to earn money to fix the glass.
      Very well played, Erik, the All Fools Day joke! Very well played.

    18. Hey, you hooked me too. There were a few points that made me shake my head, but since I know that quite an interesting variety of people make up the Amish, I could believe it. What I figured is that your friend Alvin was one of those rogue fellows. Especially when it came trying to boost tourist numbers. Most Amish arent too excited about tourists staring at them …
      Now this aint April Fools joke, but I will let you in on a “secret.” It’s not really “secret,” but a new project in the planning stages for Intercourse, Pa. I just returned from a meeting this evening where brainstorms were a flyin’ about an “Anabaptist Heritage Center” for the 7 million tourists (I believe that was the number thrown out) that come every year to Lancaster County to see the Amish. I’ll keep you tuned so you can feature it when it materializes, it will be 6 months or a year before it gets going.
      It will be something akin to Behalt in Berlin, Oh.

    19. Mary Miller

      You had me there! 🙂
      Some Amish entrepreneur is this area (Elkhart Co, IN) has built a Sports Park for the Amish youth. Softball diamonds and Volleyball courts, and not sure what else, but a good way to keep the youth occupied in the summer.
      MennoHof in Shipshewana,IN is an Anabaptist Heritage center.

    20. Bob Rosier

      I’m familiar with the Amish sports, but I would like to see information on some of the party games….Six Handed Reel, O-Hi-O, Twin Sisters, Skip to Ma Lou, Ring. I know about them, but don’t know much about the how they are played. Maybe something new for you to start Erik.

    21. Thanks for the nice comments everyone, Lavonne I enjoyed that April Fool’s.

      Mike yes “bump up our tourist numbers” is pushing it a bit but you do get all types 🙂 Interesting to hear about the Lancaster project and looking forward to more news.

    22. Mary, I believe I heard about this, is the sports park near Shipshewana?

      Bob, on the party games, I don’t know how much I can share, but maybe someone else here can?

    23. Mary Miller

      Erik, the one I’m referring to is northeast of Millersburg, but in the same general vicinity of IN as Shipshewana.