The Origin and Authenticity of the Frisian Fives

Essay 2013 8 Pages

Health - Sport - Sport History




Friesian Fives


Assessing Frisian Fives’ Authenticity




Frisian fives has gained its popularity through the years and is still played in the north of the Netherlands. This essay narrates the history of Frisian fives, how Frisian fives is played, including the material required, the contests that are held in the Netherlands and what the winners could receive. Also, a brief description of the 100th Oldehoveday Leeuwarden Kaatsclub (LKC) Sonnenborgh event is mentioned.

Authenticity has been perceived differently by several authors, which generated diverse theories on what authenticity really is, and developed various types of authenticity. However, can the authenticity of the Frisian fives on the 100th Oldehoveday Leeuwarden Kaatsclub (LKC) Sonnenborgh event be critically assessed?

Friesian Fives

Fives originated from the 12th century in France and during the years fives travelled to Belgium to the north of the Netherlands (KNKB, no date). In Friesland, which is a northern province in the Netherlands, fives were played on open squares and later on grass. In the 12th century only the high social class were playing fives, but later on the low social class participated in fives as well. In the past Frisian fives were held in the presence of kermises where prices, such as golden and silvered objects, were won. Currently, Frisian fives are still held to maintain its traditional sport.

The Friesian fives is a ball game that consists of two teams of three participants each whom are playing against each other on a fives court. One team serves the ball with an underarm strike movement while the other team does the returning stroke from the court by an overarm or underarm strike movement. Both teams are able to score, but the team throwing the returning stroke is only to score if the ball is thrown to the end of the other side of the fives court. However, a frequently occurrence is that the ball falls in the fives court, which means that it is an undecided stroke and is marked with a wooden cube or in other words fives. If both teams have switched functions of service and returning stroke than the teams will fives the undecided stroke.

To win the fives game one team has to win four strokes and earns a ‘first’. Two firsts is named a game. A team that has won four to six firsts is the winner of the game. The scoring is done by a telegraph.

The winners will receive a wreath and the best fives participant of the day will be announced as the king of the fives game. Moreover, the winners will hang their wreaths on their house front.

The fives ball is made of leather and filled up with cow hair, which weighs approximately 24 gram. The serving team serves the ball with a bare hand while the court team wear hand protection consisting of a special strengthened fives glove.

The fives court consists of grass with white cotton or synthetic material lineation. On each side of the fives court six white posts of six meter long are placed to assess the game.

In the summer of the Netherlands fives contests are held and mostly are weekly contests including the Dutch championships. Also, some fives contests offer the opportunities for fives participants to choose their own teammates. Lastly, men and women of all ages are able to participate in fives.

On the 14th of September 2013 the 100th year of Oldehoveday LKC Sonnenborgh event was held in Oldehoofsterkerkhof in Leeuwarden (Sportdelen B.V. and Dreamsfunding Technologies B.V., 2013). The LKC Sonnenborgh organised the event. The Oldehoveday is significant for fives participants due to the winning prize; the silver Oldehove. The event brought interest to a significant amount of spectators of different ages. However, is the event authentic to the participants’ and spectators’ view? Therefore, authenticity has to be discussed before the authenticity of the Frisian fives can be critically assessed.


The perception of authenticity is a dynamic, fluid, negotiated, and creative process, and evaluations change with the context and individuals’ perspectives (Yang and Wall, 2009, p.236). McCartney and Osti (2007) stated that authenticity is determined by locals who need to identify themselves with what is staged, and by tourists, who need to consider the event as genuine and accurate as possible with the original past rituals and forms of celebration. Also, Chhabra et al. (2003) observed that authenticity perceived by individuals are related to gender, place of residence and age as well as controlled partially by the media and partially by the individuals themselves. In addition, Cohen (Cohen, 1988, cited in Chhabra et al., 2003, p.706) mentioned differences by not only gender but as well income and other socio economic variables.

According to Selwyn (Selwyn, 1996, cited in Cole, 2007, p.944) there are two authenticities: cool and hot authenticity, where the former refers to the real, original, or genuine while the latter is acceptable but an enjoyed fake version. On the other hand, Wang (Wang, 1999, cited in Cole, 2007, p.944) differentiates between objective authenticity, constructive authenticity, and existential authenticity. Objective authenticity is evaluated by objective criteria, such as festivals, rituals, artefacts, cuisine, housing, and costumes, which are described authentic or inauthentic depending upon whether or not those are made or enacted by locals according to the traditions (Wang, 1999, cited in Yang and Wall, 2009, p.236); constructive authenticity is something emerged or acquired as social recognition as authentic; and existential authenticity refers to a special existential state of being in which individuals are true to themselves (Wang, 1999 cited in Cole, 2007, p.944). Furthermore, Gilmore and Pine (2007) revealed five genres of authenticity: natural authenticity, original authenticity, exceptional authenticity, referential authenticity, and influential authenticity. Natural authenticity refers to people’s perception of authentic is to keep the landscape untouched by human hands and in its natural state; original authenticity is people’s view as authentic that shows originality, never seen by human kind before, not a copy or imitation; exceptional authenticity refers as authentic if operations are executed extraordinarily and shows human care; referential authenticity refers to the inspiration of human history and looking back to a person’s memory; and influential authenticity is that people could influence each other to attain a higher goal and a better way (Gilmore and Pine, 2007). Additionally, Gilmore and Pine (2007) stated that a person could encounter not only one or more genres of authenticity but also all five. This all depends on the kind of situations a person experiences. Moreover, MacCannell (MacCannell, 1979, cited in Chhabra et al., 2003, p.705) introduced staged authenticity and defined as ‘to the degree that this packaging alters the nature of the product, the authenticity sought by the visitor becomes staged authenticity provided by the touree.’ MacCannell has a strong opinion that tourists will destroy the authenticity of experiences that is seen as authentic by tourists. Strengthened by commercialism and the quest for authenticity will render tourist experiences inauthentic because authenticity is only achievable outside the realm of the tourist role (Olsen, 2002). Though, Wang (1999, cited in McCartney and Osti, 2007, p.28) mentioned that something initially perceived as inauthentic can become authentic over time.



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London Metropolitan University
Frisian Fives Authenticity Events




Title: The Origin and Authenticity of the Frisian Fives