It just isn’t winter games without a good old-fashioned snowball fight.

With the Pyeongchang Olympics coming to a close, I’m left with many fond memories, like the time I walked past the television and briefly saw someone skiing. It’s nothing against the athletes and their remarkable skills or achievements. It’s just a little hard to watch as a layman spectator, if there’s something more interesting going on – something like…anything.

That may someday change, however, as the Japan Yukigassen Federation (JYF) is setting off on a mission to make snowball fights an official event in Winter Olympics. “Yukigassen” is literally the Japanese word for “snowball fight,” but in foreign languages can be used to mean an organized version of the popular winter pastime.

In yukigassen two teams of seven square off in a 10-by-36-meter (feet) court to have snowball fight. The team who manages to either eliminate all of their opponents by hitting them, or to capture the opponents’ flag is declared the winner.

▼ Scenes from the 4th Japan Yukigassen Championship

Snowball fights occur in pretty much any area of the world where you’ll find snow, and are a nice blend of physical strength, coordination, agility, strategy, and even craftsmanship (assuming you would have to make your own snowballs). For these reasons alone, adding it as an event at the Winter Games seems like a no-brainer, and netizens largely agree.

“I heard rumblings about this during the Sochi Olympics, but I would definitely be into a snowball fight event.”
“I would love to see serious snowball fighting at the Winter Olympics.”
“There would be no debate over whether snowball fights are a legitimate sport.”
“I doubt it will make it to the Olympics, but a world competition is possible.”
“I would be scared to go up against the arm of an Olympic-class snowball fighter.”
“Bring in dodgeball too for the summer.”
“It sure beats curling.”

However, it is a long road to the Olympics for the JYF, which started in the small village of Sobetsu in Hokkaido Prefecture. There they devised the official rules for yukigassen and started holding tournaments in their local community. Eventually, the game grew in popularity to the point that it became the national organizing body in 1993.

▼ A closer look at a yukigassen match

Now, the JYF has chapters in five areas of Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, Tohoku, Kyushu, and Sobetsu) and a presence in eleven countries around the world. By next May they hope to have the world’s first international governing body of snowball fighting set up. Next March’s 6th Japan Yukigassen Championship, held at Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium in Nagano Prefecture, will be the first “world championship,” inviting fighters from around the world.

Contestants are expected from China and Hong Kong, where the JYF has been actively raising awareness of yukigassen with Chinese educational institutions as an off-season alternative for student baseball clubs.

If all goes well, this will be the first step in the Japan Yukigassen Federation’s plan to bring the games into the Olympics. It would be a great addition too, as kids anywhere can easily emulate their nations’ athletes without needing any expensive gear. I still resent my father for not building a bobsled course in the backyard when I was young.

And for those in warmer areas, a summer alternative is also possible using those little paint-filled baseballs that Japanese convenience store clerks are supposed to chuck at robbers.

Source: Japan Yukigassen Federation, Tokyo Shimbun, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/akkopapan