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The Sacky Sack, the Burundi Ball, and I

Take a look at what these kids are doing. Making a Sacky Sack, no? Exactly as described in the afore-underlined link, they are balling up plastic bags and putting bagged-up bags in other bags. And I must tell you that I, as one who has actually constructed such Sacky Sack, find myself, as I ball and bag, at one, in play-potentiating delight, with the children of Burundi.

OK, so they had to go to the town dump to get the plastic bags and they're not really making a Sacky Sack. So they're going to cover it with scraps and make it into a soccerworthy joy for-relatively-ever, and my Sacky Sack stops with the last sack. Though I sometimes put them into panty hose.

But the connection is there. And immediate. And I can feel it. And I am honored. As if I had been handed a kind of a Peace Prize for Play. To experience, in my moments of gleeful Sacky Sack making, that we are of the same spirit and in the same world, playing together, the children of Burundi and I.

Homemade Sports

When I wrote Junkyard Sports I had to make up maybe 100 games. I mean, actually invent them. All myself. I did it alone, but never without precedent. A site called "Homemade Sports," it and all seven of the sports they've so far documented, is one more validation of the nature, purpose and spirit of junkly sport-invention and all that is therein implied.

Witness, for example, KA Paddleball as submitted by Andrew "The Gaspumper" Wert on Dec 06, 2003:

Players: 2-6
Ages: All Ages
Equipment: 1 volleyball
2 pvc pipes (3/4" thick, 1' long)
2 plastic crates

The object is to put the volleyball in your opponent's plastic crate.

Created by Andrew "The Gaspumper" Wert in 2000. Claimed to be played by over 300 people in southern Oregon.

Place the plastic crates about 15' apart from each other. Choose two teams of people of there are more than two players. Each team stand behind one of the two crates.

Each player takes a turn hitting the volleyball with a PVC pipe, trying to get the volleyball to land into the opponent's crate.

• If the ball lands in the crate it's worth one point.

• If the ball hits a wall or an opponent and then goes in it's worth two points.

The current player can only hit the ball with the pipe - no hands or feet.

Driven to learn more about the who and why of this site, I wrote the author. Here was the response:

I'm a web designer, and I just get bored sometimes. That's about it. ;)



Epigroove http://www.epigroove.com
Babble http://www.playbabble.com
DozenHoles http://www.dozenholes.com
HMS http://www.homemadesports.com

Once more boredom paves the way to play!

Jamie has created a home for a collaboratively authored collection of invitations to play and reasons for people to go out and make their own games - out of junk, for fun.

Your Homemade Sports are invited.

Don't wait.




"The best roofball ball is one of those cheap, light-weight jobs, about 10 inches in diameter, with all the swirly colors. You find them at the drugstore, dollar store, toy store, and even the supermarket when they're "in season". Of course, you may use any sort of ball that works for you...The basic game is played by 2 opposing players. They are both positioned on the same side of the building with the roof in question. Let me spell that out clearly in the negative mode: the players do NOT play on opposite sides of the roof. One player hits the ball up on the roof. Gravity (whatever that is) causes the ball to slow down, stop, change directions, and then start back down the roof, picking up speed as it does so. After it comes flying over the edge of the roof, the other player is obliged to smack it back up on the roof. As in tennis, a player has the option of hitting the ball "on the fly" - that is, before it hits the ground - or else letting it bounce once on the ground before hitting it back to the roof."

There's more. There's lot's more. There's also this.


Art, junk and miniature golf

My wife Rocky teaches a small art class in her studio (our livingroom). Her approach to kids' art is to give them opportunities to become familiar with a wide range of materials. A recent project: create a golf-course in a shoebox lid.

In preparing for the class, Rocky asked me to look up any references I could find to Miniature Golf - so we could collect some photos to further inspire the kids. I came across Mika's Down-Under Miniature Golf Course and have been chortling with nascent glee ever since.

The story: "Matt built the course for Mika in the basement of their house in December, 1996, as a Christmas present. It was assembled in pieces in the paint room, then secretly laid out the evening of December 24th, 1996. The total cost was around $340.00, which included about $100 of plastic toys not actually used in the final course, the rest going mostly for random bits of lumber, the golf turf, a putter, and several overpriced automatic golfball return devices. It was gradually disassembled by random cat activity over the course of eight months, and was finally disassembled in September, 1997, because we needed to use the laundry table."

Fact is, albeit an evanescent wonder, Matt managed to build an 18-hole golf course in his basement, and a half-year of significant miniature-golf-like fun for his family. For Matt's illustrated guide to basement golf, see the webpage.

Building one's own miniature golf course is apparently a semi-approved educational activity. Here's a story describing how Students Design Miniature Golf Course out of Legos. Legos. But of course (so to speak)!

So inspired was I by these stories that I sought out that repository of all half-baked ideas, Halfbakery for evidence of advanced thinking along these lines, wherewithin I found Extreme Miniature Golf and The Miniature Golf Version of Anything.

Of course, you can further miniaturize golf, until you find yourself playing mini-miniature golf on paper or even on the computer.

Something is telling me that designing one's own miniature golf course is an invitation to potentially preternaturally deep fun.

The Sock Rope

Should you have a bunch of socks and a collection of zip ties, as we had at last weekend's Redondo Beach Fun Fest, and should you be wondering what invitation to play could be crafted from said same, wonder no longer. The young recreators of Redondo discovered that the Sock Rope turns out to be an admirably sturdy and moderately stretchy device which serves most brilliantly as a volleyball/badminton/tennis net, should anyone wish to play volleyball/badminton/tennis. In the absence of ball or bird, one might consider the use of a sacky sack, as in the game of Footbag Tennis.

And yes, it is most rope-like, and can consequently can be used in many rope-using games, like, for example, jumprope and that game where everyone stands in a circle and jumps over the rope while the center player holds it by an end whilst centrifugilating it.

When it comes time to dismantle the Sock Rope, a game of Make-a-Wish Tug-of-War can generate significant amusement, the winner being the team with the longer Sock Rope. A similar game, known as Toilet Paper Tug-of-War, can be played with, um, toilet paper.

Ultimate Hoseball

We really only got to play two junkly sports at the Redondo Beach Fun Fest last Sunday: Ultimate Hoseball and the Fling-off.

Ultimate Hoseball took a good hour to play. Not that it couldn't have taken a good half-hour, or probably good half-day. Each of the two goals (there could have been more, you know) was made out of a water bottle (half-filled with sand so that it wouldn't blow over). The game was based on Ultimate Frisbee, of course. Basically, you couldn't run with the hoseball. So you had to throw it to a team mate, who, in turn, had to throw it to another team mate, who was hopefully close enough to the appropriate goal-bottle to knock it over. Yes, I know, there were some very important rules left out. But no one seemed to care. The game worked. People came and went, as is the tradition in most good and funly fests, joining this team or that. Or just watching. Or maybe blowing bubbles, as was their wont.

The Fling-off started when some younger kids joined, and the older amongst us had had enough. The goal - to see how many hoseballs we could get in the air at the same time. This was a perfect finish to our fest-part. The high-flying hoseballs were just the thing to attract people from all over the field. It was self-explanatory. And seeing all those hoseballs in flight was kind of, well, spectacular.

The LimpStick

Having discovered the near-infinite possibilities of the Sacky Sack, I found myself chafing at the conceptual bit, pondering the potential of the further development of Junkyard Sports equipment.

Sorely lacking, until this very moment, has been a fun, safe, junkly equivalent of the bat or club or mallet, even. Initial experimentation led me to a deep contemplation of "pantyhose-stuffed-with-bublewrap as bat," pictured here with its coffe cup friend.

Actual investigations of the swatting power of p-s-w-b bat led to the selection of its official name: "LimpStick." The LimpStick doesn't really have that bat- or club- or mallet-like rigidity. On the other hand, with some experimentation, it: 1) is relatively possible to quite satisfyingly hit a 3-sack Sacky Sack or even a Bag Bag a most reasonable distance, 2) with a quite pleasant whap, and 3) most significantly, is soft enough to sustain engagingly pain-free-for-all jousting and sword play.

Urban Golf

Urban Golf. Some call it an "extreme sport," I call it "junkyardly." Very, very junkyardly. An embodiment of junkyardliness. Absolute junkyardification.

I quote from the site of the Urban Golf Association:

Who needs Pebble Beach? What's a master, anyway? Where's my Bullhorn?

From the people who brought you the Urban Iditarod, the Urban Golf Association brings you the 4th Bi-Annual Emperor Norton North Beach Open.

That's right folks, golfing in North Beach. Nine Holes, Nine Bars, and not a Nine Iron in sight. Bring any club you can find (a 3 iron is handy, but a putter is great) as we golf through the streets of San Francisco. Each hole offers fun urban challenges, hazards, and yes - even danger!

Why wait in annoying lines at Mini-putt course? Why suck up to 6AM tee times? The UGA (Urban Golf Association) offers you non-stop fun all day long, with plenty of watering holes for every putting hole."

Yes, yes, I know, it's an adult-only kind of thing, combining a plethora of potentially precarious putting with the increasingly debilitating joys of bar-hopping. So, it's not what you might consider a paragon of junkyardhood. But in every other aspect, in the creativity and spontaneity and sheer foolery of it all, it is an apotheosis of extreme junkyardliness.

Also known as Crossgolf, according to the BBC Sport Academy, traditional Urban Golfers (yes, it's been around that long - since 1992, at least) use a leather ball filled with goose feathers." I of course, would recommend the three-sack Sacky Sack.


Softball-sized Sacky Sack

Made of approximately 14 plastic store bags, three of which were of the thin, translucent variety. It might have been 12 plastic store bags. I smushed and twisted as in the making of the regulation-size Sacky Sack. Actually, it was more of a smush, stuff, twist, turn inside out, twist kind of thing. All I know is that it god so big that I could get each of the handles of the outside sack to just----barely--------fit around the whole Sacky. A couple of the inner sacks seemed to have had some air trapped in them, which gave the Super Sacky a nice extra bounce to complement its round, firm, and smoothly packed softball-sized self. It is very cool, and fun, too.

The Sacky Sack

Herein depicted while posing with a coffee mug, from left to right:
  • the one-sack Sacky Sack
  • the two-sack Sacky Sack
  • the three-sack Sacky Sack, with belt loop
Further explorations of the Junkyard Sport-ready properties of the food store plastic bag, especially investigations of the significant scrunchability of the bag, and the equally notable, slightly stretchy twist-and-loop-around-to-hold-it-all-together properties of the food store plastic bag handle, have led to the creation of what can truly can only be called the Sacky Sack.

Combining scrunching, twisting and looping, it becomes possible to create an extensive variety of little, tightly-wrapped ball-like things that are as fun to kick and hit as any of them fancy leather-covered, pellet-filled foot bags you read about, fun even as the highly branded and beloved Hacky Sack of Wham-o fame., and perhaps even more:
  • They're completely customizable.
  • They're softer.
  • And they're just as great in a game of miniature golf, table-top soccer, or lawn billiards.


Apparently, the game of Shoeshoes is like Horseshoes or perhaps even Quoits, which is very like horseshoes except that it is played with things that look like oversized washers and are sometimes made of rope. Shoeshoes, on the other hand, involves a pair of human shoes whose laces have been tied together, and a chair.

Shoeshoes should also not be confused with Shoreshoes, as described in the the much vaunted Junkyard Sports® Hall of Fame (though it fails to point out how cleverly the letters of horseshoes can be used to spell shoreshoes).

As for Shoeshoes, one evidentally throws one's tied-together shoes in such a way as to get them to hang on a leg, or perhaps even straddle the seat. Different points are awarded for different configurations as they occur.

The required distance one is to stand from the chair, the preferred chair, as well as lace-length and shoe size, have not yet been established.

The Bagbag

Here you see the Official Junkyard Sports® Bag Bag. If it appears to you that the Bag Bag is little more than a bunch of those plastic store bags stuffed into another plastic store bag, you are both shrewd and cunning in your observational powers.

It turns out that the common household Bag Bag has properties, which, when properly put to play, lead inevitably to the creation of many funly volleyball-, basketball-, and soccer-like experiences.

Significantly funly.

Not only is is light enough for pain-free-hitting while being heavy enough to manifest comparatively impressive athletic prowess, it also makes a cool noise when you hit it.

Also, because removing a bag or two from the Bag Bag usually does little to impede the resultant Bag Bag's playworthiness, the Bag Bag becomes a resource for yet more bag-based sports, from Bag Bag Bagball (basketball played with a Bag Bag with bags for baskets) to Hoseball Bag Tag, where everyone has a bag tied to a belt loop on the back of their pants, and a Hoseball or Sockball, and, while trying to keep others from throwing their Hose- or Sockball into their bags, attempt to get their sock-thing into someone else's bag. For no particular reason.


The true origin of the Hoseball is shrouded in mystery and buried in the coffin of time. I first learned of it when it was called a Schmerltz, during days of the New Games Foundation and all that was implied thereby.

At last Friday's first official Junior Junkmaster Training, where the chosen ones, leaders of recreation throughout the vast holdings of Redondo Beach, participated in something similar to an hour of madcap Junkyard Sports making. Our junk collection included a large repository of panty hose and socks, a couple plastic bags full of plastic bags, a few paper grocery bags, and some plastic tie-downs.

For demonstration purposes, I had prepared several Schmerltz-like objects that I had made by stuffing a good-size ball of socks into a leg cut from a pair of pantyhose (as illustrated). For some reason, when I introduced these to the group, I didn't call them Schmerltzes, as I once had, but referred to them as, yes, Hoseballs.

There are other definitions and uses for the word, I must admit. There's not-so-vaguely sexual game and a baseball-like game that uses a piece of rubber hose for a ball. And there are other words for Schmerltz, including a commercial thing called a Fling Sock, and the more traditional "Socks-in-Pantyhose" or "Socks in Sock" or "Socker Thing."

But as of Friday, regardless of precedent or what, it became, officially and forever, a Junkyard Sports® Hoseball.

Junk, Survival, Paradigms and stuff

You know that “survival of the fittest” theory?

OK. So what if we compare Junkyard Sports like Fryingpan Baseball and Hoseball Golf to official Arena Sports like football, soccer,?

Here's something chart-like:

Junkyard Sports:

Play with anything
Play with anybody
Play anywhere
Play any way you all want to

Arena sports
Play only with the right stuff
Play only with the right people
Play only in the right place
Play only according to the rules

Think of each kind of sport as a different kind (like a species, as it were).

Which species do you think (he asks rhetorically) is more likely to survive the long haul?

Think of what it means to be a team when you play Junkyard Sports, vs what it means to be a team when you play the other kind.

Which kind of team is more likely to thrive (he asks toungue-in-cheekily) when things start changing, things like roles and rules and goals and boundary lines?

Which leads me to the conclusion that Junkyard Sports is an opportunity to present a different paradigm for both workplace and fireplace, a paradigm that is radically different from that of traditional sports, and yet I'm thinking more accurately describes how they really experience themselves and each other when they really work as a team.

Whaddya think?

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