HR Strange But True!
March 16, 2006

Move over, office retreats and departmental lunches -- when it comes to building corporate teamwork, the next big thing just might be WhirlyBall.

With elements borrowed from jai alai, basketball, and hockey, WhirlyBall is played in a rink featuring two teams of five players passing a ball with handheld plastic scoops and scoring by tossing it at a target on an elevated backboard, all while driving around in electric bumper cars.

Flo-Tron Enterprises, based in Salt Lake City, has trademarked WhirlyBall and franchised it to more than a dozen facilities in the United States and Canada. Sam Elias, president of Chicago WhirlyBall, said annual revenue has steadily increased by 15 percent. Corporations represent about 80 percent of WhirlyBall bookings.

"It's really become a rage with corporations, I'd say within the last three years," FloTron President Kim Mangum told the Associated Press.

Lynda McDermott, president of New York's EquiPro International, said she hadn't heard of the sport and didn't see how it applies to the workplace. EquiPro advises clients including Pfizer Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and Time Warner on team-building programs.

"Sometimes clients don't care; they just want to have fun," McDermott said. "I just think if you're going to get a return, that it makes sense to do some type of linkage back to the job itself."

Paul Donato, a financial analyst at Cigna, said WhirlyBall is a great way to learn more about co-workers in a casual environment and is great way to build teams. "You're passing and you're blocking and you're getting someone out of trouble, it's totally interactive," he said.


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