Sacré Boule! New York Pétanque Team Gets Le Divorce


There’s secession afoot amid La Boule NY, the 40-year-old group devoted to the French bocce-like game of pétanque, or boules. About eight top players, almost all of French origin, are leaving the roughly 130-member club to form New York Pétanque Club. At least a few of of the rebels will be on the U.S. team in the pétanque world championships in Taiwan next year. Splinter-group leader Jean-Pierre Subrenat says the old, multiethnic group is too much a social club to really focus on the ball-rolling. The new club, which is laying down new gravel courts in Prospect Park, likely won’t remain all-French, he says, but adds, “Let’s not forget it’s a French game. If it was a group equal to us in France playing baseball, you would have more Americans than French.” But Ernesto Santos, who heads the original club, says that only about half of the defectors are superior. “It’s a French game but it’s also international,” he says. “The biggest growth is in Southeast Asia.” A lot of the French players here never even played in France, he says. “They were intimidated. But now they’ve taken it up as a coming-back-to-their-culture thing.”