If handball is about anything, it is about this sort of dispute. In such a culture of contention, everything is up for debate. It isn’t even clear what the record is between Jagnandan and Sala. They have played each other roughly three or four times a year since 2004, with Jagnandan winning the majority of two-out-of-three matches and Sala taking most of the one-game matches. Even though Sala won all three matches in 2008, many handball wise men believe that Jagnandan’s single-minded dedication will win out this year. “I’m sure he can’t wait for the chance to regain his title,” says Albert Apuzzi, a former champion himself. But you will not hear these two competitors denigrate each other in the time-honored way. Both say the rivalry has made them better players. They heap praise on each other’s technique, say it’s an honor to be on the same court … blah, blah, blah.
Joe Durso is openly contemptuous. “Handball is a physical contest where there is a premium on aggression,” he says. “You are trying to physically overpower the opponent. I just don’t like that while you are trying to do that, you are trying to be a gentleman.”
He adds, “I think I was better than both of them.”