At last we have proof positive of the benevolent impact of the advertising community on office life. Behold, the game of Shelfball, as developed by ESPN as part of their “Without Sports” campaign. Now available online as an interactive game, Shelfball is a relatively mild Office Sport (compared to, for example, Desk Hurdles and this other Honda-advertiser-inspired sport of Office Rowing), in which players attempt to toss a ball (or any other readily available object), on to an empty book shelf.

The official ESPN version of Shelfball is scored like baseball. A ball must first bounce on the floor before hitting, and staying on a shelf. Two shelves are used. Depending on the number of bounces and the shelf occupied, players score a single, double, triple or homer. Scoring anything but a home run puts an imaginary man on base.

What’s especially intriguing about Shelfball is that what started out as a clever advertisement actually became part of office culture. People are playing it, making up their own variations, holding official (what else?) inter-office world series tournaments. I look on it all as a sign of health. Thanks, ESPN, for keeping more of us in play.

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