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dodgeball

There are some sports that are accepted as being "professional" and worthy of being watched by millions of Americans on TV (some networks even preempt regularly scheduled programming for specific sports). Then, there are the sports which you play in school, but seem to be relegated to being just for kids. I'm thinking specifically of kickball and dodgeball (and in the U.S., I would even put soccer in that category, in as much as the game is *way* more popular in schools than it is as a spectator sport in the U.S.). I always especially liked all three of those sports in school, because I was so awful at the "popular" sports like basketball, football and baseball. I was generally one of the most athletically incompetent boys in the school (ever, quite possibly), mostly because I couldn't really throw balls, but man, I could dodge. As the school nerd, I think I developed a natural dodging reflex because I often had to run a "punch the dork" gauntlet in the school hallways. In fact, I was a bit of a spoiler; most games ended with about 4 or 6 really athletic boys on the other side and me, somehow dodging the best they had to give. Of course, you don't win the game by just dodging, and the coach/teacher usually timed me out for not throwing any of the balls back successfully. Judging from this Box Office Prophets article, I guess many people had a different experience.

Anyway, I say all this, and go so deeply into my own personal childhood history to illustrate that dodgeball is a game that really doesn't get its full due. You'd think that some form of dodgeball would have become a popular spectator sport years ago; it seems to me to be exactly the sort of violent game Americans in particular enjoy on TV, but it also requires a surprising amount of grace and agility to win. I would imagine a professional league version of dodgeball would use smaller, harder, faster balls, with the game perhaps taking place in indoor facilities comparable to what they use for jai-alai (which suggests a different way dodgeball could become popular... as a gambling sport). Of course, there are dodgeball organizations, tournaments, etc. today, but they are obscure at best. This movie, perhaps, could change that (though I doubt it :). I'm not saying I don't think the movie will be popular; I'm just skeptical about the ability of a comedy about dodgeball to actually revitalize the sport. As for this movie... I LOVE the concept (or else I wouldn't have written so much thus far without even mentioning it :). Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn both seem like the sort of guys who should be funny to watch getting bopped in sensitive areas by speeding rubber orbs, and to watch them dishing out some revenge in return. An early episode of "South Park" comes to mind, when the kids became global dodgeball champions because the British boy who everyone picked on could throw a mean dodgeball when he got angry. It's easy to imagine Ben Stiller going into that sort of game face fury.

 


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