At the highest levels of national and international competition, where pétanque is regarded more as semi-professional sport than leisure game, official efforts continue to introduce and enforce uniform dress codes and behavior rules.

According to a recent article in “The Local Europe,” a concerted effort to change pétanque’s image as a sport gained velocity with the International Federation’s failed campaign to have it included as a new Olympic sport in the 2024 Paris Games. The Olympic Committee chose breakdancing instead, leading Occitane Pétanque League president Michel le Bot to express his disgust “that it was all about chasing the youth audience when Paris should have been promoting its own cultural symbols.” The effort continues with a renewed pitch for the 2028 Olympics.

In general, the more important the competition, the more stringent and uniform the rules. Smoking and drinking alcohol while playing are out. Umpires have been instructed to turn away players whose dress is improperly informal and to use penalty cards to control player behavior– yellow for warning, orange for forfeiting a throw, and red for expulsion. Breathalyzer tests have been ordered as well as random drug tests.

The movement at the competitive sport level is an interesting contrast to the international proliferation of chic, laid-back pétanque-themed bars and cafes in upscale urban settings as well as to classic visions of cigarette and pastis-accompanied play in espadrilles among plane trees in Provençal village squares.

Meanwhile, in Oakmont and in towns and villages around the world, the haute-sport movement meets with Gallic shrugs as pétanque enthusiasts anxiously await the lifting of stay-at-home orders, the coming of vaccines, and a return to la vie normale.

Pétanque play via player-arranged pickup games continues on the Oakmont courts between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank. Using the two side courts and leaving the middle court vacant to promote social distancing, the maximum number of players currently permitted is 12.

Those using the courts are reminded to keep a minimum of 6 feet social distance at all times and to bring and use their own equipment, face covering and hand sanitizer. Masks covering mouth and nose should be worn at all times.

Scoreboards, throwing circles, extra boules, chairs, and benches may not be used. Gatherings before and after games are prohibited. No one feeling ill may come to the courts and individuals play at their own risk. During play, no one may touch anyone else’s boules. Each team must use one designated player to throw out and pick up her or his own cochonnet.

The Club will announce when it will officially resume sponsorship of open, random team selection Club Play on Wednesday and Saturday mornings in the regularly scheduled 9:45 a.m. – noon time slot.

Pétanque in the rainy season (at last!)

(photo by The Local Europe)

Casual pétanque fashion: Borneo.

(photo by The Borneo Bulletin)