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  Category: Articles » Sports & Recreation » General Sports » Article

The Basics of How To Play Bearball™

By Robert E. Bear

Bearball™ is sort of a blend of kick ball, dodge ball, and baseball played on a square field with a six inch playground ball. It's a game of skill, strategy, and chance played between two teams, called Clans. On the field are areas designated as Meadow, Clear-cut, and Forest. In the Meadow are places marked as Trees, Lake, Hill, and Den.

The object of the competition, called a Hunt, is for Bears to get from the Trees to the Den before being caught: Bagged. Whenever a Bear safely reaches the Den a point is awarded. Each team takes turns at being Bears and Hunters. When four Bears have been Bagged, the Hunters have taken their Limit and the Clans switch places. Eight completed sets of rotations of innings, called Stalks, constitute a Hunt. The team with the greatest number of Bears reaching their den safely wins the Hunt. There are no "tie" games in Bearball, each Hunt produces either a Feast (win) or Famine (loss). Ties and other disputes are settled by flipping the Flatbear coin.

To start the game, one Bear is sent to each Tree on the field. These Bears are called Ursa Minors (Um). One member of the Bear team, the UM (Ursa Major), goes to the Den and kicks, throws, bounces, or rolls the ball into play after the Warden shouts "Hunt" when the two teams are in place. There are seven Hunters positioned around the field. The ball must stay within the limits of the Clear-cut and Meadow (see field maps). If the ball goes into the Forest, a "Bagged Bear" (same as an 'out' in baseball) occurs and the Bears at the Trees must return to their Tree. Bears must take at least a three but no more than a ten second Swim in the Lake on their way to the Den sometime during their play as an Um during a Stalk (see Rule 1.77). Zones on the field where the Bears can Hibernate, or safely stay, are the Lake, Trees, and Den (see Rule 1.31). Bears may switch back and forth between the Trees and Lake in any direction to avoid being Bagged.

When the UM puts the ball into play, the Hunters get the ball and can throw, kick, bounce, or roll the ball toward a Bear as it attempts to get to the Den. If the ball touches any part of the Bear below the neck, the Bear is Bagged and must return to the Cave. Four Bears must be Bagged per Stalk. After four Bears have been Bagged, the teams switch places and the Bears become the Hunters.

Note: There are seventeen conditions in which a Bagged Bear can be declared (see rule 1:02.

The UM can attempt to maul Hunters (see Rule 1.46). The UM cannot get the ball for Mauling until after at least one Hunter has touched the ball after the UM puts the ball into play out of the Den. When the UM throws, kicks, bounces, or rolls a ball toward a Hunter and the ball touches any part of the Hunter below the neck without the Hunter catching the ball, the Hunter is declared Mauled and a point is awarded to the Bears. If a Hunter is Mauled, they must leave the playing field for the rest of that Stalk. No more that two Hunters can be mauled per Stalk.

UMs can be Bagged in the same manner as the Um's.

UMs cannot score points other than by mauling. They can go to a Tree or Lake; however, no more than one Bear at a time can occupy the Lake or Tree. If a Um touches a Lake or Tree that has a UM, the Um is declared Bagged.
Play does not stop until one of the following five conditions occurs:
1) Time-out is called by a member of the Ranger staff.
2) All Bears on the field have been Bagged.
3) All Um's have safely reached the Den.
4) The Den is Burned.
5) A Dead Stone occurs; i.e., Forested Stone.

If an Ursa Minor is at a Lake when the Den is Burned, or ball Forrested, it must return to a Tree before start of the next Live Rock and cannot be Bagged until play begins again.

Clans must rotate players through their Campaign Roster. Once an Ursa Minor has been Bagged or reached the Den safely, they cannot return to a Tree until after they have played as an Ursa Major. An Ursa Major cannot return to kick the Stone until they have served as an Ursa Minor. If both Ursa Minors return to the Den without a Bagged-Bear, then the Warden will call Open Season and Bears will go to their appropriate places to start Hunting again. If only one of the Um's returns safely when there is a Dead Stone, then another Um must go to a Tree before play can start again with another UM putting the ball into play. If an UM is still at a safety zone, Tree or Lake, when a Dead Stone happens, then it must return to the cave before another UM puts the ball into play.

An Ursa Minor may replace another at a Tree when Warden calls "Open Season". There may not be more than two Ursa Minors on the field at one time during Live Rock.

When the Stone has been kicked from the Den, Hunters attempt to Bag a Bear by hitting the Um with the Stone before the Bear can reach the Den. Two Ums can be Bagged on one throw if the ball does not touch the ground between contacting Bears.

The Hunt ends when one of the following happens.
A. Eight Stalks are completed.
B. Game is delayed more than forty-five minutes due to inclement weather.
C. One team is thirty points ahead after five Stalks.
D. Due to circumstances where one team has less than six active players after competition has begun.
E. A team has been given three unsportsman-like conduct penalties.
F. A team declares forfeiture.

The Warden then signals to blow the horn because the Hunt has ended.

To more fully understand the sport and terminology used, read each of the Bearball™ rules carefully at!
About the Author
Robert E. Bear is a professional educator. He has been recognized in Who's Who In America, Who's Who In American Education, and National Honor Society Outstanding American Teachers. Robert has created the Star Poster Program, the game of Gig'l®, and the team sport of Bearball®. To view his games, wildlife paintings, and other writings, go to

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