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Wheelchair skateboarding

Wheelchair skateboarding is the very kind of sport activity that demonstrates the heart and soul of the "junkyard" approach to sports. Like all skateboarding, the world is a skatepark. Sure, it's always neat to find a dedicated skatepark with artfully constructed ramps and stuff. But the heart of skateboarding can be found on curbs and stair railings and in empty swimming pools.

Using a wheelchair instead of a skateboard, Tyler Deith manages to transform even the official skatepark into its junkly origins. Skateparks aren't designed for wheelchairs. Nobody ever thought that people in wheelchairs should even consider skateboarding. There's no term for the sport that Tyler has created, because, as yet, there are no such things as wheelchair skateparks. The closest I've seen to a label is "Extreme Wheelchair Sports." Me, I like it, a lot, that there are no official names for what Tyler is doing, because it makes it a little more obvious that Tyler is doing it for fun - making fun that much more accessible, that much more universal.

- Thanks for this find go to Grow-a-Brain -

Exreme Ironing

Extreme Ironing is, apparently, the name of the game.

I quote from a clearly informed source:
"Extreme Ironing is a sport which combines the danger and the spirit of an extreme sport with boring housework you have to do. By Extreme Ironing the sportsman gets a great fitness and he is always looking smart.

"Extreme Ironing calls on you to take your iron and your board to extreme places to iron your clothes there. That can happen on a mountain, in a forrest, in lakes, rivers, etc, on crowded public places or wherever you like. There is no limit.

"Extreme Ironing... is also dangerous. So you have to handle your iron very carefully and at the beginning it is a good advise to do Extreme Ironing at not too dangerous places. Just practise on not too steep slopes or in your backgarden. Do never ever Extreme Ironing on your own if you are not a professional. Otherwise you ask for danger. There are some protections for your arms and so on. Please use it."

"The object of extreme ironing, which was apparently invented in Britain, is 'to take ironing to the edge by demonstrating a spectacular or creative ironing style, whilst taking the creases out of your clothes'."

My favorite part - the slogan: "HAVE FUN, LOOK TIDY"

Link courtesy of Bruce Williamson

Four-Square Volley Ball

We reinvented Four-Square Volley Ball at Friday's "Sports for Fun, for Free, for Everyone" workshop. We were in a large carpeted room, maybe about 70 of us. Chairs were placed against the walls so that there was plenty of room for us to play. I had my bag o' balls, including a baseball-ball-sized sacky-sack. In order to illustrate the concept of Junkyard Sports and all implied thereby, I asked the group to make up some kind of game we could all play together. Since most of them were involved with very active youth, and because it was almost lunch, they elected to play a game with a lot of movement. Because the room we were in could be subdivided into two rooms, the carpet design was in two sections - with a broad strip down the middle. Apparently, this seemed like a volleyball net to some people, so volleyball was the game of choice.

I explained that though this would probably work, it seemed to me that not enough players would be involved. The suggestion was that each team had to hit the ball at least five times. Or maybe three. Or anywhere between three and five. Since there were maybe 35 on a team, it seemed to me that there would still be a problem with participation. Someone suggested that we divide the court in half again, so that there were four sections, as in the game of four square. We used people's jackets (including my just-cleaned sports jacket) and laid them on the floor, perpendicular to the dividing strip. This gave us four teams of maybe 17 on a side. Since we didn't really want to keep score, someone else suggested that if a team misses, they'd lose a member. This raised a concern about people having to be "out" - a major no-no, Junkyard Sports-wise. So, we made it the rule that the last person to miss the ball would join the team that served it.

And it was good.

OK, other people have invented their own versions of 4 Square Volleyball. But, a) it was ours, and b) that "if you miss you join another team" rule was uniquely Junkyardly, manifesting a certain sensibility that the real and maybe only purpose of a good sport is to keep everyone in play.

Skee-Ball Revisited

Skee-Ball, in case you need to be reminded, is described most poignantly by Paul Lukas on his Inconspicuous Consumption website, as:
"...that coin-operated game where you roll a series of nine balls, one at a time, up a gently inclined lane that has a hump at the far end. The ball sort of launches off of the hump and then lands in one of several holes -- the farther away the hole is, the more points that hole is worth. It's a swell game, but the key moment for me is when I drop my coin in the slot, which releases the nine balls down a ramp -- the balls are all released at once and proceed down the ramp in unison, one after the other, so they all come to a near-simultaneous stop when the bottom ball reaches the base of the ramp, which produces a spectacularly satisfying Click! sound that resonates throughout the room. The appeal of the click (which is actually comprised of eight separate and distinct mini-clicks, which are separated by a nanosecond or so as each ball collides with the one in front of it) is hard to describe, but it's one of those exquisitely perfect noises that's exciting and comforting all at once."

Skee-Ball is manufactured by the Skee-Ball Company, and though it is their core product, it is one of many game machines they have invented. They produce a significant collection of Midway and Coin-op games. But Skee-Ball remains their most traditional, and for many, most beloved contribution to the world of pay-to-play. It is also something that could be easily made out of junk. For free. Granted, you probably won't be able to reproduce the proverbial "click," and the balls probably won't return automatically, let alone near-simultaneously, but with a few old golf balls, or maybe some Sacky-Sacks, a couple cardboard boxes and some old coffee cans, something most satisfyingly skee-ballish could be yours.

Junkyard Sports on Niteline

Yes, it's true, the Junkyard Sports weblog, which you are reading right now, was, in fact, mentioned on Niteline, March 8. Compared, as a matter of fact, to the New York Times weblog, itself. Noting that both weblogs are legitimate publications. The only difference between this and that being that the New York Times is rich, and Bernie DeKoven isn't.

Another astute observation from your media to mine.

Paper Soccer

I am always on the lookout for new paper-and-pencil games because they are by nature junkly - you can play them virtually for free, and the rules are usually informal and open for change. Recently, I discovered Paper Soccer, as described in the always more amazing Wikipedia is played as follows:
"The game starts on an empty field of 8x10 boxes with goals of two boxes wide as shown in the picture. In the beginning, a virtual ball is placed in the center of the field, on the crossing of the paper lines. Players move the ball in turns and aim to place it in the opponents goal.

"In one turn, the ball may be moved into one of the eight paper line crossings around it (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) and a segment from the original position to the new one is drawn to mark the move. The ball may not move neither on the game field border nor on the segments marking the past moves but it bounces from them, i.e. a player who moves the ball into a position where there is already an end of a segment or a game field border he or she gets another turn.

"The first player to place the ball in the opponents goal wins the game. The game may also end when a player does not have a valid move (he or she loses automatically)."
In fact, should you so desire, you can play it right now, on-line, via Kurnik, a free, and most visit-worthy site that hosts a small plethora (I counted 30) of similarly on-line, multiplayer games.

Floor Games

In 1912, H.G. Wells wrote a little book called "Floor Games." It's about his experiences playing with his two sons. Though it's style is mannered (as you would expect from a book written almost a hundred years ago), it reflects a profound understanding of how to play with children - profound enough to be the inspiration for many of the basic concepts of Play Therapy. At first glance, because of the liberal use of toy soldiers, it seems like he and his sons are playing war games. The fact is, they're just playing - building cities and islands, ships and trains, weaving fantasies into new levels of intimacy between father and son.

What struck me as especially relevant to our focus on junkyard sports was how Wells describes the integration of found objects into their amazingly complex structures:
"That temple has a flat roof, diversified by domes made of half Easter eggs and cardboard cones. These are surmounted by decorative work of a flamboyant character in plasticine, designed by G. P. W. An oriental population crowds the courtyard and pours out upon the roadway. Note the grotesque plasticine monsters who guard the portals, also by G. P. W., who had a free hand with the architecture of this remarkable specimen of eastern religiosity. They are nothing, you may be sure, to the gigantic idols inside, out of the reach of the sacrilegious camera. To the right is a tropical thatched hut. The thatched roof is really that nice ribbed paper that comes round bottles --- a priceless boon to these games. All that comes into the house is saved for us. The owner of the hut lounges outside the door. He is a dismounted cavalry-corps man, and he owns one cow. His fence, I may note, belonged to a little wooden farm we bought in Switzerland."

The kind of junkly play Wells describes could easily be applied to the creation of miniature Astrodomes and Wimbledons and the evolution of yet another deeply playworthy arena for junkyard sports.

Wells' book is also available online.

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