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A Die to Sport For

Suppose, instead of a soccer ball, you have a die (as in one of a pair of dice). Let's say it's a 5-inch, 20-sided die. Made of foam, but coated so it can take some good kicks. And your score depends not only on your kicking the die into the goal, but also on the number that shows up on top of the die when it stops rolling. Seems a little random, doesn't it? Not something you could really control or anything. Kind of up to the roll of the die, as it were. On the other hand, that little bit of randomness could be just the thing needed to keep both teams in play, because even though you may be two or three goals down, there's still the chance that when you finally do score, you'll roll a 20.

I know, a brand new, coated, foam-rubber, 20-sided, $5.95 die is not what you'd call "junk." On the other hand, it could prove to be just the thing your friendly family soccer game needs to keep more people in play longer.

There's a whole category here of stuff - not actual junk, but neat stuff that you have to buy - well, I suppose you could make your own kickable dice out of cardboard cartons and then it would be more junkly, but that's not the point here at all is it? Rather, that there's this neat stuff, all around, especially the kind of stuff you'd find in a physical education supply catalogue, like, for example, Toledo, where I found this die - stuff that can bring more people and more fun into the game. And, as such, becomes a source for invention and inspiration for anyone who cares anything about play at all. It brings to mind one of the football variations I wrote about in Junkyard Sports - called "Chess Football" (demo game 5.7) - where each team has a certain number of single step moves before the other team gets to move. You could throw the 20-sided die to determine just how many moves the team would be allowed for that turn, and, if you so desired, you could play, as described in the demo game called "Scooter Football" (5.12), play Chess Football on, well, scooters, even.


Though you need special equipment in order to play Bumball (i.e. Bumball clothes which feature a large patch of velcro on your chest and your, well, bum; and an inflatable ball covered with velcro strips), Bumball is, in concept and affect, a Junkyard Sport of the highest order. Witness: Bumball tip #7: "Adjusting the rules to fit the players, the surroundings and the intention of being together will make a perfect Bumball game."

As for goals, they "are determined by the two teams jointly, for instance wall bars, hula hoops, mattresses or anything at hand. The number of scoring spots depends on the number of players. Two teams of 4 players allow 5 scoring spots, two teams of 5 allow 6 etc. Please beware that Hula hoops may be slippery on smooth surfaces. Instead you may use existing lines on the floor, or use adhesive tape to line up the scoring spots.

Finally, players are encouraged to create new rules. The rationale given: "In the process of creating new rules and testing them, children learn a great number of qualifying elements. They learn how to solve conflicts, negotiate and critically evaluate other players' proposals. Not all games will be improved, however, seeing that it takes practice, luck and a great deal of testing and adjustment to change the rules of a game. Still, children will gain invaluable insight into evaluation, dialogue and problem solving."

Which, of course, is the whole point of Junkyard Sports.

As for the rules, for example:

Bumball rule #1: "Players are always allowed to run with the ball when it is sticking to their bum."

However, according to Bumball rule #9: "Players cannot score a goal when they run with the ball sticking to their bum."

For a more detailed explication of the rules of the game, see: this.


Certainly you remember Halfball, the 50's and 60's Philadelphia and Boston stickball-like, baseball-related game played with a broomstick and half a hollow-rubber ball. And certainly you've seen the official halfball equipment where, for only $30, you get the "41 inch long by 1.25 inch diameter halfball bat. Handcrafted and turned by a batmaker in Maine, USA to capture the feel of cherished memories, branded with the Halfball logo (and) three bonus halfballs are included with every order." Yes, yes, I admit, there's a little irony here, halfball being a Junkyard Sport par excellence, created, out of necessity, when one's Pimpleball split - and now we have people who are marketing official, pre-made halfballs. But my question to you is have you seen Halfrubber, the beach game?

Yes, yes, remarkably similar to that which we've come to know as Halfball. Played with remarkably similar equipment. But in bathing suits. On the sand. With only three people. A fun thing. A good thing. A thing to be celebrated. A thing to be played.


Embedded player Noise E. Piranna reports:

"Spring has finally sprung here in the northeast, and yesterday while I was playing Frisbee with a friend in a nearby park, we saw a group of people playing an interesting game that you, perhaps, invented?"

Not, in fact, having invented that game, I probed for further details. Noise elaborated:
"It was like baseball, but the ball was huge... bigger than a dodgeball, but smaller and more substantial than a beach ball... like a big kickball, I suppose. And the bat wasn't a bat at all, but a broom. And they were having a lot of fun.

"Yes, they were hitting the ball with the sweeping end of the broom. Or at least they were trying to. I dunno if they had official bases/positions, but they seemed to be in the traditional diamond-shape with a pitcher. I assume they had teams, but I suppose that's quite an assumption. They were relatively close to each other... I assume it's not easy to hit the big ball very far with the broom."

Play on, o people of the broom, play on!

Sack Circles revisited

As you so vividly recall, my son's discovery of the Sack Circle was a major leap forward for those in pursuit of the junklier joys of plastic-grocery-bag-play. Understanding this, you can perhaps more accurately imagine the profundity of pleasure I personally derived from the discovery of Julie Leung's meditation on the further significance and implications of the Sack Circle.

She writes: "Gentle toys, they can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. Tossed onto rings. Or spun like a Frisbee. Or thrown like a ball. Create a new game! Plus these Sack Circles, unlike balls or athletic equipment, are easy to transport. By bike. Or bracelet. Or a whole arm. A friend pointed out that Sack Circles are an efficient way to store plastic bags. Put them on a paper towel holder!"

There is a shiny surface of salubrious serendipity to be found in the Sack Circle, and I am believing that it has been barely scratched.

Calvinball - the rulebook

We are fortunate indeed to have in our virtual playground someone like Sam Ryan who has the wisdom to go to the needed lengths to document the essence of the prototypical Junkyard Sport, Calvinball.

I find myself with no option other than to quote:
"1. All players must wear a Calvinball mask (See Calvinball Equipment - 2.1). No one questions the masks (Figure 2.1).

"*IMPORTANT -- The following rules are subject to be changed, amended, or dismissed by any player(s) involved.

"1.2. Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game (Figure 1.2). The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone (Refer to Rule 1.5) the player is in.

"1.3. A player may use the Calvinball (See Calvinball Equipment - 2.2)in any way the player see fits, from causal injury to self-reward.

"...1.9. Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it causes the same result as a previous game. Calvinball games may never be played the same way twice..."

Thanks for this find go to Eric Zimmerman, himself, and mine, too.

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