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Dodgeball is a game in which players on two teams try to throw balls at each other while avoiding being hit themselves. In North America, the game is typically played among children 6–12 in elementary school. However, internationally, the sport has also emerged as a popular middle school, high school and college sport and in some countries universities also play the sport. It is also popular in informal settings and is often played on a playground, community or in organised recreational leagues.
There are many variations of the game, but generally the main objective of each team is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with thrown balls, catching a ball thrown by a member of the opposing team, or forcing them to move outside the court boundaries when a ball is thrown at them.
The number of dodgeballs used in the game often varies, but three to ten is common. Exceptions are usually made if a court is particularly small or if many people participate. More balls generally adds to the amount of action in a game, but can result in stalemate with many blocks. Six is the minimum number of balls to conduct a game with enforced rules. An odd number is generally favorable as one team will necessarily have a majority of balls in possession and should take the offensive role.
The standard worldwide measurement and material for a dodgeball is a seven-inch foam ball; however, most dodgeballs are roughly the size of a volleyball and composed of foam with a thin plastic shell. Some dodgeballs are made of rubber and some more specialized ones have a padded canvas surface. Some leagues allow the use of multiple sizes of dodgeballs in a single match, while others use one standard size for all balls.
A typical dodgeball game is usually played on a basketball court, volleyball court, fenced area or even an Australian Rules Football oval or soccer pitch. There is no fixed dodgeball court design. The game is picked on the best available surface that is usually one of the above-mentioned. Unless it is a variation of dodgeball, the court must have a center line.
Rules of game
At the beginning of a dodgeball game, the balls are lined up on the central dividing line (in some versions of the game, the balls are thrown in the air for the players to catch or divided evenly to both teams pre-match). The players then simultaneously rush towards the center line and try to grab one of the dodgeballs and throw or roll it backwards to their teammates. In some versions there is a "check line" that the dodgeballs have to be behind before they can be considered "live." Players cannot pick up a ball and throw it instantly. This is known as the opening rush. Once the game has commenced, players throw balls at members of the opposing team in an attempt to eliminate the players.
When a player has been hit by a dodgeball "on the full" (i.e. without hitting the roof, the floor, any of the walls, or an outside object and rebounding off) and no one catches it before it becomes dead, that player has been eliminated and must move to his team's designated bench area (players are still out if the ball rebounds off another dodgeball and/or player and hits them on the full). The same rule applies if any number of people try to catch the ball but drop it. Depending on the rules and variation, "headshots" (balls thrown in dodgeball that hit an opposing player in the head) may either result in the thrower being out, or the person being hit being out, or both.
If a player catches a ball thrown by the opposing team on the full, then the player who threw the ball is eliminated. As long as the ball has been caught in any way and is held for at least two seconds, the thrower is out (i.e. even if the ball is caught between the legs, the thrower is still out). If a dodgeball hits an opposing player but gets caught by one of the hit player's teammates, the thrower is out, a player gets reinstated, and the player who was hit stays in. In dodgeball games that are played on a basketball court, if a player throws the ball and it goes into the opposing basket and/or it hits the basketball backboard on the full, the whole team gets resurrected. The ball is still counted to have scored a basket or hit the backboard on the full if it rebounded off another dodgeball or it was deflected into the backboard by an opposing player. If the ball hits the backboard supports and/or the ring but fails to hit the backboard or go into the hoop, there is no effect. Players cannot be caught out if the ball hits the backboard, backboard supports, and/or the ring.
Players can pick up dead balls and throw them back at the other team. Players are allowed to leave the confines of the court to gather balls that have rolled out of bounds, but cannot throw the ball until they are back inside the court. A ball thrown from outside the court cannot eliminate an opponent who is hit. It only succeeds in getting the thrower automatically eliminated. A player who moves completely out of bounds when a ball is thrown at them and does not catch that ball is also eliminated. If a player moves into the opponent's zone or picks up a ball from inside the opponent's zone without it fully rolling inside their zone, that player is out. Players can also get eliminated if their throw hits an opponent on the head, displays bad sportsmanship, or cheats. Kicking the balls is prohibited.
Depending on the rules of a particular game, a ball in the possession of a player can be used to block incoming balls thrown by the opposing team. Depending on the rules of the game being played, if a player gets a dodgeball knocked out of their hands from an opposition throw, or drops the dodgeball when it is used to deflect oncoming balls, the player is eliminated.
Once all players on either teams are eliminated, the game is over.
Another alternate rule is ‘No Lines’ or open court. This rule is used at a point in the game when there are few players left and it is too easy to dodge the ball with all the extra room. When ‘No Lines’ is declared, all boundary lines no longer count and the players can go anywhere to get a better shot at their opponent.
In popular culture
- On the Indian subcontinent a variation of the game is played called "Sekan-tadi" (सेकन-तड़ी). This is slang used for "slamming the hip".
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode " The Pack", Buffy and her friends compete in a game of dodgeball when normal gym classes are cancelled.
- The 2004 movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is generally credited with reviving interest in the sport, especially among young adults, despite referencing the sport as being about "violence, exclusion and degradation".
- The South Park episode "Conjoined Fetus Lady" and Season 1 of Freaks and Geeks depict dodgeball as a potentially violent sport.
- In The Simpsons episode "My Fair Laddy", the new gym teacher Coach Krupt has the students play "Bombardment", a variant of dodgeball where Krupt throws balls at students while screaming "Bombardment".
- In TV sitcom According to Jim, Jim, the main character, while a child, hits Pierson with a dodgeball during a game. Pierson calls for a timeout, but Jim argues that dodgeball does not have timeouts. Pierson never forgives Jim for that hit even after 30 years, when he becomes a vicar.
- In the movie Chicken Little during gym class, the little animals appear to be playing dodgeball.
- The TV show Warehouse 13 featured a Baylor Dodgeball, stored in the Warehouse for causing the deaths of 5 military cadets during training. It can launch itself at high speeds and multiplies upon contact. Reverts to a single ball if one is caught.
- In the game Bully at sportive hours in gym.
- In the Total Drama Island episode "Dodgebrawl", the campers compete in a game of dodgeball.
- In the series Ed, Edd n Eddy, the character Edd never removes his hat from his head due to what he calls the "dodgeball incident."
- In the TV Series "Courage the Cowardly Dog" episode "Ball of Revenge", Eustace Bagg unites several of Courage's former enemies to get their revenge on "that stupid dog" by forcing him to play in a deadly game of dodgeball.
- In the TV Series "Recess" episode "Dodgeball City", the gang discovers Gus' past as 'El Diablo', a notorious dodgeball player who used to terrorize the playground of his old school. They then try to get him to take part in a dodgeball showdown between the fourth graders and fifth graders, but Gus refuses to participate and reveals that he quit playing dodgeball after unintentionally traumatizing a little boy into avoiding recess. It is only after seeing his kindergarten friend Hector get hit by a dodgeball from Lawson, the fifth grade bully, that an enraged Gus briefly takes up his 'El Diablo' guise again to defeat the fifth graders with ease, before declaring his intention to retire for good.
- In the TV show Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero episode "3 Big Problems" Penn, Boone and Sashi at Gym class a game dodgeball. Later during they mission they throwing bombs look like dodgeball.
- In the 2006 movie Jackass: Number Two, one of the skits involves playing dodgeball both in the dark and using medicine balls rather than traditional dodgeballs.
- In the Discovery Channel series Wreckreation Nation, host Dave Mordal competes in a WASA Dodgeball tournament in Denver, Colorado.
- In Greek, the ZBZs take on the IKIs in an all-girl match, resulting in a winning blow by Jordan to Frannie.
- In Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Percy and his friend Tyson must play a dodgeball game to the death against cannibal giants who want to eat him.
- The film Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium has a magical closet with a knob that turns to change rooms like the room of balls, where the three boys are amazed to see. It has every kind of ball including the red gigantic dodgeball standing as a curious boy named Jason (played by Isaac Durnford) opens the curtains by pulling the elegant rope. The ball bigger than him has the black letter "M" (which stands for Magorium) on it and when he touches it with his pointing fingertip, it rolls amongst him and when the door is sealed, he gets squished by the ball he touched. Mr. Edward Magorium opens the door and describes the giant ball as "impossible to dodge".
- In Episode S1E2 of Dexter's Laboratory, the protagonist is forced to play dodgeball in P.E., resulting in him being bullied in the process. He eventually takes revenge on his bullies with the help of a freshly invented Powered exoskeleton, dodgeball-style.
- In episode "Letters" of M*A*S*H (season 9, episode 2), the doctors receive letters from school children asking various questions. One child says she would be rather playing dodgeball, but her teacher is making her write the letter.
- In the TV show Glee, this game becomes an important part of the character Kurt's campaign for class president. He describes it a "modern day stoning."
- In the movie Bad Teacher, while Cameron Diaz's character attempts to teach her students more aggressively, one method she used was throwing a dodgeball at a student if he/she got a question wrong, reversely if he/she got it right, they'd get to throw at her.
- GSN aired a dodgeball game show called Extreme Dodgeball; it was hosted by Bill Dwyer and Zach Selwyn and ran for three seasons.
- In the Babymouse series' 2nd book Babymouse: Our Hero, Babymouse plays dodgeball; she fails as a kindergartener but defeats her nemesis in the game when older. Dodgeball has made appearances in other books such as Babymouse: Heartbreaker & Babymouse: The Musical.
- Dodgeball is featured in the Nintendo Wii videogame Mario Sports Mix.
- The videogame Stikbold: A Dodgeball Adventure (named after the Danish word for dodgeball, stikbold) features the sport of dodgeball, although the rules vary slightly from the actual game.
In addition, the dangerous nature and associated risks of dodgeball have resulted in controversies, lawsuits, and calls to eliminate the game from school physical education programs.
- University of California, Irvine, reclaimed the largest game of dodgeball title on Sept. 25, 2012 with 6,084 participants. The previous largest game of dodgeball was played by 4,979 participants at the University of Alberta on February 3, 2012.
- The longest game of dodgeball was played on April 27–29, 2012 at the Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont. The game lasted for 41 hr 3 min 17 sec.
Usage in American vernacular
In some American idioms, the act of avoiding something or someone mildly unpleasant can be referred to as 'playing dodgeball.' Additionally, in a variant of the same concept, the term "dodgeball" is sometimes used to describe a situation in which an individual is caught between two untenable positions, in a reference to the version of the game in which players from the same team can surround opposing players from two opposite sides.
- List of dodgeball variations
- Killerball (sport)
- U.S. intercollegiate dodgeball champions
- Valentino, Giovanni (July 18, 2013). "All Grown No Lines: A little known Dodgeball rule.". Exaggerated Rants and Strange Musings. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
- Paley, Amit (July 12, 2004). "All Grown Up, Dodgeball Hurtles Toward a Higher Popularity". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "School dodgeball goes to court in New York". The Associated Press. USAToday.com. November 20, 2004. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "U of A smashes dodgeball record". Edmonton Journal. February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "Longest marathon playing dodgeball". Guinness World Records. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- National Dodgeball League Official Dodgeball Rules & Regulations of Play
- World Dodgeball Federation rule book
- D'Angelo, Chris (2008). If you got the Guts, We got the Balls: A book about Dodgeball. Dangerous Chris Print. ISBN 978-0-578-01564-4
- Keyes, A. (2005). The Complete Book About Dodgeball. AuthorHouse. ISBN 1-4208-7548-5
- Kassock, Isaac (2012). The Philosophy of Dodgeball: A Treatise. Createspace. ISBN 1-4700-4494-3
- YMCA School Playground Partners: Dodgeball Games YMCA of San Diego County
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dodgeball.|
|Look up dodgeball in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- World Dodgeball Federation
- National Dodgeball League Professional dodgeball league, directions for member clubs/leagues in the United States.
- World Dodgeball Society California, Chicago, New York
- Elite Dodgeball Invitational Tournaments and leagues within the United States. Invite only.
- National Amateur Dodgeball Association
- National College Dodgeball Association
- San Diego Dodgeball Leagues
- Dodgeball Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canadian league.
- Vancouver Dodgeball League A Vancouver, BC, Canada league.
- UK Dodgeball Association National governing body for dodgeball in the UK.
- Dodgeball NZ, New Zealand's Official Dodgeball Organisation
- South African Dodgeball Association SA's First Dodgeball Association.