Dodge ball getting flack for being too dangerous.
April 11, 2001 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Dodge ball getting flack for being too dangerous. Nevermind football, field hockey, or lacrosse. *sigh* Shame is, as the awkward, non-athletic kid they're trying to protect, dodge ball was my savior. It allowed me to fully participate in PE without the loss of dignity necessitated by other, mainstream sports.
posted by silusGROK (40 comments total)
NASPE has gone so far as to put dodge ball on its "Physical Education Hall of Shame" -- along with such offenders as kickball, Red Rover, Simon Says, tag and musical chairs.

Musical chairs?!?!?
posted by swell at 2:12 PM on April 11, 2001

Urk, any discussion of anything that has the words "politically correct" in the opening lines makes me wince.

That said, I broke many fingers in dodge ball in junior high. I was one of those scrawny kids that even the biggest losers could
feel brawny next to. So I got tormented, frequently. Outlaw dodge ball? Nonsense. My biggest enemies were the sadistic gym
teachers that the loser bullies often grew up into.
posted by jessamyn at 2:13 PM on April 11, 2001

You raise a good point, jessamyn. It's not clear that there's any sort of political agenda behind people wanting to get rid of dodge ball. I think that "politically correct" is just a term that conservatives use to provoke a kneejerk response among their adherents. Not that I'm suggesting a publication from Utah would have a conservative bias, mind you.

There's nothing particularly liberal about wanting to avoid liability for damages. "PC" doesn't apply.

I wouldn't outlaw dodgeball either. It's too much fun simply because it is aggressive. In other sports, aggression and physical contact are incidental to achieving a specific goal. In dodge ball, the only goal is to hit someone. But I doubt that kids get any more injured playing dodgeball than basketball or football.
posted by anapestic at 2:27 PM on April 11, 2001

Dodgeball should be outlawed. It's institutionalized sadism. I draw the culturally acceptable line at Snowball fights, pillow fights, food fights.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:32 PM on April 11, 2001

Dodgeball is great! I too was one who would usually be an easy target during the game. I could neither dodge or catch well. But I think I liked it since it wasn't a team game - I didn't have to worry about being picked (or not picked) for a team.

I've been meaning to organize some adult/punky dodgeball games, but I've been lazy. I want to hop around again. I want to see people discuss the difference between using a big red ball and one of those little red balls (ouch). There are also a ton of interesting game variations.
posted by gluechunk at 2:51 PM on April 11, 2001

gluechunk: the little red balls were obvious favorites, i would say. Being the only lefthanded kid in my class that could throw pretty hard was great. I'd get some cool movement on the ball.

The bigger ones sucked, unless you let enough air out of them that you could fold over a bit of the ball to get a good hold on it.
posted by jbelshaw at 2:58 PM on April 11, 2001

finally in my school, they got rid of the red rubber balls in dodgeball altogether, and replaced them with soft foam ones. That effectively ended dodgeball.
posted by jbelshaw at 3:01 PM on April 11, 2001

If I hadn't gotten pasted in the head in dodgeball as often as I had, I wouldn't be the man I am today...not everybody gets to be Eric Lindros and get his concussions in a glamorous fashion :)
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2001

The sound and smell of those red orbs is postively Proustian--like an instant trip back to age six.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:10 PM on April 11, 2001

I have to say that NASPE had me smelling a rat of the Joey Skaggs variety, especially after their home page shows a sports injury. But they've apparently been at this for some time and do other legitimate stuff, with a view of encouraging healthy physical activity for all students, which is why they don't like selective competitive sports.

I guess you could call it the "New PE". Part of the philosophy here seems to be that the students who remember things like ball-in-face injuries and humiliating team selection eventually outnumber the athletic success stories, and when they become parents, they don't politically support physical education. The result is unhealthy PS2 potatoes with obesity problems.
posted by dhartung at 3:11 PM on April 11, 2001

"The thing I really don't like is you can have several people ganging up on one."

Thats the funnest part of the whole damn game. Its just you against 4 or 5 people on the other team and your whole team is counting on you to save the day. Now thats fun.

On a related note, did anybody else ever play Medic Dodgeball in grade school? Basically each team had one medic who had to roll around the ground with one of those 1'x1' scooter tile thingys (what the hell were those things really for anyway?) and pick up teammates that had been hit, taking them to the back so they could do some pushups and return to the game. If the medic got it was almost hopeless for the team, because then once you got hit you couldn't be saved.

posted by howa2396 at 4:39 PM on April 11, 2001

Big red balls? Little ones? Soft foam balls!?! *Scoffs* At my school, we used overinflated volleyballs, and we liked it, dammit.

Yeah, it can be a sadistic and mean game, but it's also a lot of fun (because sadism=fun!). And there's room for more than just brute force... it can also be a game of cunning and intelligence. I was never the most athletic kid, but I held my own and had a great time doing it.

I just don't like the idea of shelving any activity because there's a slight chance of feelings(or even something else) getting hurt. You end up with a bland system built on fear and paranoia if you follow that rule to its logical conclusion.

That said, maybe there should be some sort of alternative for those who don't wish to partake of the violent fun. But of course, that would be construed by some as preferential treatment, and we can't have that, now can we?
posted by jdunn_entropy at 5:10 PM on April 11, 2001

I think gym class should be outlawed.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:20 PM on April 11, 2001

Is it just me, or did we read something like this sometime before? mid-March?
posted by hobbes at 5:48 PM on April 11, 2001

wow. brings back memorys.

In 7th grade, we had dodge ball in a small room. the class would split off in to 2 teams and each team would line up at the opposite walls. we could bounce the balls off the walls and tag people. The balls were soft so no one ever got hurt. that dodgeball-type game always kicked ass.

Dodgeball in 2nd and 3rd grade was fun. but it didn't kick ass.
posted by ewwgene at 6:35 PM on April 11, 2001

I was tormented by dodgeball (and sports) as a child. I'm still awkward. Let the bullies smash each other's heads and torsos with whatever kind of balls they like, I would have given anything just to be left alone to read.
posted by raintea at 6:38 PM on April 11, 2001

hobbes, the PE thread in March did not mention dodgeball, although it did deal with the worth of PE.
posted by gluechunk at 6:41 PM on April 11, 2001

All these games are about survival.. But it's getting to the point where "What about the kids" is really going to hurt and mentally f up the kids when they grow up.
posted by ellis at 9:03 PM on April 11, 2001

I think the "politically correct" angle is the perception that if even one person is "harmed" by an activity, then it's done for...
posted by owillis at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2001

The only sports injuries I incurred during PE were during pre-running stretches (planted a foot in a pothole, dislocated my patella) and golf (got hit with a bad shot, what else?); we played dodgeball with those big red balls and no harm, no foul.

Oddly enough, I was discussing this article with my 12-year-old cousin last week, and she stated that dodgeball is played in junior high, with little foam balls that the kids have wrecked, so they can't play dodgeball any longer. I told her that we had stopped playing dodgeball in gym in 3rd grade. (The little kids still played it; it wasn't a ban, just different units for the older kids.) I think the 7th grade dodgeball is a replacement for the archery class they used to run 10 years ago.

If these schools aren't doing dodgeball, what do they do?
posted by Electric Elf at 10:30 PM on April 11, 2001

Gym class was quite often the worst part of the worst time of my life. Getting pantsed, getting picked last, getting rocks thrown at me on the field.

If I ever get to be the All-Powerful Master of Time and Space, I'll make Phys Ed an elective.
posted by waxpancake at 11:55 PM on April 11, 2001

We played a chaos variant of dodgeball that featured the rule that the least recently hit person would be reactivated and if you made a basket on the other team basketball hoop (minimum half court shot), the whole compliment of out people on your team get reactivated. It made the game much more exciting.

I think musical chairs should played with the rules in the Simpson's in the special class: n students, n chairs.
posted by plinth at 5:07 AM on April 12, 2001

In case you were wondering where to get them: red rubber balls!
posted by nicwolff at 9:54 AM on April 12, 2001

Let me get this straight. In Utah, Dodgeball is no good; gun control in no good. I think Dodgeball in school is just spouse and child abuse waiting to happen.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:56 AM on April 12, 2001

Paris... I believe that the article was merely a Utah-based reporter discussing a press release by a national organization.
posted by silusGROK at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2001

Four-square beats dodgeball any day.
posted by rodii at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2001

I remember that in my gym class (cause where else but gym class does one play dodge ball?) we used foam-rubber soccer ball things. I always wondered what those were for, other than dodge ball.

I won more than a few games of dodge ball, actually. No reactivation, no medics, just plain ol' "chuck the ball at the other team." It usually wound up with me on one end of the court and some girl or other on the other end (co-ed gym class in 7-8 grade). I couldn't catch for shit, but I dodged better than anyone else. Plus it was really easy to stay in until toward the end - just stick to the back and hide behind the bigger, stupider kids.

... oh, and if you hit someone in the head, it counted as a hit against you. Of course, they were foam-rubber soccer ball things, so it wasn't that big of a deal.
posted by billybunny at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2001

Damn. If I had finished my Dodgeball/Foursquare article I would look so cutting edge right now.


Have I mentioned that I think dodgeball was designed to prepare people for the cutthroat world of internet a-list elitism...
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:54 AM on April 12, 2001

[owillis] I think the "politically correct" angle is the perception that if even one person is "harmed" by an activity, then it's done for...

It's too bad this doesn't apply all the time. When I was in second grade I nearly poked my eye out with a pencil! Do you think they stopped letting us bring pencils to class? OH NO! Pretty soon they were making us bring pens, too (okay that was several years later, but whatever...)! What a cruel cruel existence!

[rodii] Four-square beats dodgeball any day.

Absolutely, although we would almost always play two-square instead. Much more competitive and the opportunities for making interesting rules was unlimited. I swear there were lines 10 to 20 kids long to play with us. Me and Erin Whelan were two-square king and queen though, no one could beat us but each other. What a great game!
posted by daveadams at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2001

We played nine-square, where you'd move up as others lost and eventually wind up in the middle square. It could get nasty.
posted by rodii at 12:08 PM on April 12, 2001

I'd love to see a Rollerball-Style movie about nine-square - Maybe something with Whoopie Goldberg as the socially awkward adolescent...
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:20 PM on April 12, 2001

As an illustration of how much times have changed: in elementary school, we got bored with dodge ball, so our P.E. teacher came up with "kill ball." Everyone started out with a ball (the red ones). No boundaries, so point-blank shots were legal. If you got hit or your throw was caught, you were out. Last person left was the winner. The game would usually come down to the biggest guy and a girl named Beth McNabb, an amazing athlete who would almost always win by somehow catching that last shot. I have no idea why no one was seriously injured. Somehow, I don't think something like kill ball could come about in these days of lost innocence, but perhaps that's a good thing.
posted by gimli at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2001

Ahh, the good old days. "Kill Ball" (aka "I hate my students ball" on one gravel field, "Smear the Queer" on the other. Times have certainly changed... Maybe the real problem with kids today is that they don't have enough school sanctioned non-lethal violence.

If any of you reading this are parents, please - encourage your child to beat up a classmate. It's only through brutal expression of physical violence that we can possibly hope to stem the tide of adolescent angst induced murder.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 2:20 PM on April 12, 2001

Is Dodgeball primarily an indoor or outdoor game? I remember it "least fondly" as a lunchtime activity when it was raining out.

Perhaps Vince McMahon should take it extreme and show it on NBC? This could be a new variant on reality television in which adults get to get back at the kids hated in 4th Grade? Given the angst associated with Big Red Ball, the Nielsens would be killer!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2001

Copyright, ParisParamus, 2001.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:46 PM on April 12, 2001

Finally, a post I have something to say about :)
This year, my roommate and I started a dodgeball league here at DePaul University in Chicago. I have to say it is a great success. We maxed out at about 60 kids coming and playing on a basketball court in our gym. We are now playing two nights a week.
If you play again, it's really nice for righting some of the wrongs of grade school and it's also feels good to peg a frat boy with a hard rubber ball.
By the way, we use rubber four square balls and face shots count one day a week.
One of the guys who plays is trying to start a national league, i will post a link when the details are online.
posted by mikeyb at 8:00 PM on April 12, 2001

I propose the XDL (Xtreme Dodgeball League).

All the terror of regular dodgeball except:

- the ball is half filled with water
- there is no namby-pamby "out of bounds"
- keep going until you draw blood
- fat kids (like myself) get 2 dodgeballs to compensate for speed inequities
- final game will be to win a "Dodge" Dakota

and of course

- half naked "cheerleaders"

(how sad is it that i would actually watch something like that on ESPN2? check out the XBA on iFilm)
posted by owillis at 8:12 PM on April 12, 2001

The prize needs to be a Dodge Ram. "Dodge Ram. Not just a truck, but good advice if you find yourself stuck in a meadow with a horny male sheep."
posted by kindall at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2001

- half naked "cheerleaders"

Left or right half?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:03 PM on April 12, 2001

Left or right half?

That will be decided by the player who can ingest the most beer before vomiting.
posted by owillis at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2001

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