We've established that I'm hopeless at team sports, right?
I treated middle school gym class as an opportunity to explore various ways of avoiding physical activity, rather than just sucking it up and accepting 45 minutes of running, jumping, and catching.
Equality is important to me, so I spread the disdain for all things athletic around evenly. I effectively avoided ever having to touch a soccer ball by being a defensive player when the offense was trying to score, and then pretending to be an offensive player when the defense was trying to protect the goal. I literally hid in the bushes to avoid flag football. Once, to get out of a basketball game, I pretended to sprain my ankle.
I know. I'm the worst.
But my aversion tactics were strongest when it came to the great American gym class pastime of dodgeball. What kid doesn’t love being pelted in the face with a piece of foam wrapped in plastic skin? Just me, apparently.
As a very peace-driven, non-competitive child, I was particularly afraid of the kids in my class that Ben Stiller must have based the character of White Goodman off of in the 2004 movie, "Dodgeball."
Throughout middle and high school, I developed a system for avoiding any dodgeball situation. All my years of practice have made me a master, and now that I have very limited foreseeable games of dodgeball in my future (thank god!), I pass this on to you.
- How to Play: When a player is hit by a dodgeball, they must go to the out of bounds line behind the other team. They are back in the game if a member of their team is able to throw a ball across the gym and hit the backboard of the basketball hoop behind their opponents.
- How NOT to Play: After a few minutes of appearing like you are participating, go sit out behind the other team. When the kid on your team who is most likely to become a minor league pitcher gets your whole team back in, go sit behind the other team. Repeat until Joey catches on and then give him your favorite mechanical pencil to buy his silence.
- How to Play: When a player is hit by a dodgeball, they must sit down. In order to be "rescued," they must be dragged by a fellow player to the back of the playing area. They are then able to return to the game.
- How NOT to Play: Die immediately and hope that Lawrence Williams is the one who drags you to safety.
- How to Play: This is the version of dodgeball where once you’re out, you’re out.
- How NOT to Play: Don’t be the first kid out, but definitely don’t be the last one standing. Stand on the outer edge of the playing area, wait for two or three teammates to be taken out, and then let the girl who sits next to you in band take you out with the light tap of a dodgeball to the shin.
Protect the Pin
- How to Play: Every player receives a plastic bowling pin, which they must keep from falling down. They are not allowed to touch the pin, but must shield it with their body.
- How NOT to Play: While the gym teacher is looking, shuffle around your pin with your arms out. As soon as they turn away, kick your own pin over, sit down, and think about how nobody will force you to play dodgeball anymore when you're an adult.
Snack Break Dodgeball
- How to Play: Wrapped snacks (single-serve bags of pretzels, crackers, candy, etc.) are placed on the center line. If you make it to the snacks and back without being hit by the other team, you get to keep the snack you grabbed. (This is the closest anyone has ever come to motivating me to play dodgeball.)
- How NOT to Play: Cut your losses and settle for eating the Cheez-its your much more athletic friend mistakenly grabbed thinking they were Goldfish.
- How to Play: This is the cruelest form of dodgeball. One team stands on either side of the playing area, forming a channel from the runners to the other side. The runners must then cross the area, all while trying not to get a nosebleed.
- How NOT to Play: Oh my GOD, just fake an injury and get yourself out of there!