This is the view I bike by every day on my way to work.
For you kubb aficionados, you will know that this is Boyd Park in Eau Claire. The home of the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Championship. This picture was taken today around noon. Yes, this morning, one could have skated a little before work, and an ice sculpture from Valentine's Day is still partly up. And yes, we still have around a foot of snow on the ground, some kids of Team Kubboom went sledding today, cross country ski trails are still open, and I helped push a neighbor's car out of a combination of snow, slush, ice, and snow bank yesterday in our alley.
This long winter has had me thinking over the past days of where is there snow left in the US. Also, there have been some comments in the house regarding the need for spring and warmer weather (mid teens this week in the morning). Top that off with the fact that the US Midwest Championship is in five weeks, and there is no grass in sight to practice on here in Eau Claire for teams going to Rockford. Then, I started thinking, I wonder if those areas in the US still with snow matches what I consider Kubb Country, USA. Over the past year, I have also thought a lot about what people from outside Kubb Country, USA think about Kubb Country, USA. Do they wonder why we live here? Do they wish there was as much kubb activity in their part of the US? Would they be excited, nervous, pumped to play a team from Kubb Country? Are there teams from outside Kubb Country that talk about playing the Kubb Snipers, Kubbsicles, Team Knockerheads, Tad Kubbler, and others just like we here talk about playing the top Swedish teams?
Well, then I went on weather.com and did a little research. I found this.
Yep, snow cover in the U.S. If you don't live in a mountain area, well you don't have any snow, unless you live in parts of the upper Midwest. Looking at this, there is a very small percent of us Americans right now that are experiencing snow on the ground, and a whole lot of us in the US are not wearing jackets. Then I thought, I have to zoom this in.
Now, when people ask me about where a lot of kubb is played, I often say "Upper Midwest", but in all honesty, that is not true. The majority of activity is in Wisconsin, Minnesota, northern half of Iowa, and the northern tenth (or less of IL). That, my friends, in my opinion, is Kubb Country, USA. So, I tried to get a little fancy and made this.
This shows that we are an interesting breed of folk. I estimated the MN and WI populations of a total of 11 million and then tossed in two of the three million of IA. That is 13 million people. I know, not all of us play kubb, but it is the geographical area. Northern IL is tough. Is Rockford Kubb Country? Of course. Is Chicago? Yes and no. We all would love for it to be 100 percent yes. But yes and no means yes, as there are parts of WI, MN, and northern IA that still have not heard of the game...yet. So, let's add six million. (Holy wow. If I lived in the Windy City and had the energy, I would go kubb nuts in the Chicago region and think of it as a small country. Sell a set to 1/10 of a percent of households in five years? Well, there is some potential there, right? Chicago itself could host a tournament once a month, at least.) OK, off subject here.
So, Kubb Country, USA is around 19 million. That is right at six percent of the US population. To top that off, it is an outdoor game to be played on grass (or a beach). We play winter kubb here because we have to. People in Georgia are not finding ways to play snow kubb. Yes, Kubb Country, USA has the shortest amount of time to play the game. Personally, I think this adds to the lore of the game in the US and who plays it. I experienced living in the desert Southwest for four years. Many a times, people marveled at how people live in the upper Midwest, and would often ask why people live there. I don't want to make any of our Atlantic coast kubb friends mad here, but 20 degrees is really not that cold. Am I right, or what?
With that, I have a one big thought in my head. As we talked about in Kubbnation Magazine this year, we are living and experiencing a total grassroots and organically-grown kubb social experiment here in the U.S. Toss in the fact that Kubb Country, USA is in the geographical heart of the Winter Beast just adds to the amazingness of the whole thing. Myself, I love living in Kubb Country, USA and being part of this growing sport. I would not want it any other way.
Perhaps we will be able to play kubb on some grass in another couple weeks here in Eau Claire. That would be the middle of April. I cannot complain though. Afterall, that is life in Kubb Country, USA.