What makes a handball

They should have shortened the distance to their favorite sport. In addition to reaching the semi-finals, that was the second order with which the German handball players started their home World Cup. The result after two and a half weeks: Mission accomplished impressively, both for one and for the other.

In fact, handball, de facto invented 101 years ago in Germany, has made a big step in public perception - even though the comparison with football is in principle inadmissible. Whereby: In the midst of the wave of euphoria triggered by the rousing performances of the German team, it was even said that the handball players were the better footballers.

In terms of TV quota, they have even left the kickers behind at times. 6.69 million people in front of the television were interested in the live broadcast of the first half of the second half of the season between soccer record champions Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim. Even the meaningless preliminary round game against Serbia saw 6.76 million - and were, in any case, a majority, enthusiastic.

The SZ names five reasons why handball is so much fun.

1. Attack or defense - something is always

Handball stands for speed and action every second. There is no breathing space either for those directly involved in the game or for the audience. It goes back and forth for 60 minutes, without midfield, without banter. Even the German semi-final against Norway, which was lost at 25:31, was anything but a bore with a difference of six goals. Until three minutes before the end the score is 25:27, and a two-goal deficit is nothing.

2. Goals over goals - and still spectacular goalkeeper parades

It is crucial that goals fall. That's what it's all about. In handball there are many goals, rarely less than 40. The fact is: the men between the posts can be so good, there is no zero number. Andreas Wolff also had to make this experience, which was beneficial for the audience, but all the more painful for him. And Germany's number one took a long time to accept that they could not fend off every ball.

Nevertheless, according to one of the handball principles, the goalkeeper is half the battle - and part of the spectacle. If he holds around 50 percent of all throws, that is considered a world class quota.

3. An injury is only considered to be what results in hospitalization

Hard, harder, handball player. The players reel off an almost unbelievable amount of work - at this World Cup there are ten games in 18 days. And after the Allstar Game on Friday in Stuttgart, the second half of the Bundesliga season will start on February 7th.

Handball players are not necessarily spared, but they also don't spare themselves. “If it doesn't crack, it's not handball,” writes Stefan Kretzschmar in his new book “Hölleluja” - and explains what makes the sport absolutely crazy for him. “It's usually tough but warm among handball players. Hand out, pocket, shake hands, carry on, ”he says. Basic rule: If a player remains on the ground, he is really seriously injured - which does not mean that he will not continue playing afterwards.

A torn muscle fiber is felt to be ignored, in any case the downtime is significantly shorter than what one is used to from footballers. “The fight is tough. This is what sets our sport apart, ”says Kretzsche, who is still the most famous handball player in the country twelve years after his career ended. But that could change now, that should change.

4. There are guys on the field who also have something to say

You won't find any superstars in German handball, especially when it comes to sport. That too is an explanation for the defeat against Norway, that is the difference to the French, to the Danes. Even the best players are only known to a professional audience - have been: the always grim-looking goalkeeper Wolff, the lovable and strong defensive boss Wiencek, nicknamed Bamm-Bamm, who is no longer known only to experts, plus his lanky neighbor Hendrik Peke Pekeler. Also Paul Drux, Uwe Gensheimer, ... The fact that these are people who have an opinion and who also represent them publicly when asked - authentic, straightforward, undisguised - became really known in the course of the World Cup.

Which not least has to do with your sport. Handball is not just about fighting, the mind is also challenged, the moves and defense systems are too complex. Kretzschmar again: "From experience I can say: In handball, the asshole rate is relatively low."

5. There is an infectious enthusiasm in the halls

The atmosphere at handball games is particularly emotional. This has to do with the reasons already mentioned and with the often changing leadership and tension, sometimes right up to the very last second. During the World Cup, however, it was also criticized that the atmosphere in the stands is heated up by the hall speaker and that clapping cards make it even more loud. "So what," replies backcourt player Steffen Fäth, "what's bad about it?"

Kretzschmar sums up: "For me, handball offers the perfect mix of speed, dynamism, athleticism, explosiveness, aggressiveness, fun, tension and lots of emotions."