As you may or may not know, there is a movement afoot to eliminate Dodgeball from school gymnasiums across America. As you may or may not also know, I have taught elementary physical education for the past 3-years. My friends, I must tell you the war is on.
The fun-haters at the forefront of this movement would like you to believe that Dodgeball puts too much pressure on the psyches of our youth, that it somehow damages a young student's self-esteem to engage in such a "violent" sport, that getting knocked out in a game is harmful to a child's well-being and, indeed, their fragile egos.
I say poppycock, balderdash, and whatever other cool name for bullshit I can think of. Here's an example of this line of thinking. I just got back from a seminar on PE and all anyone wanted to talk about was non-competitive activities like dancing, aerobics, and Tae Bo. Boy, that sounds fun, no? Woohoo! Tae Bo today kids! Good Lord. People are turning to this kind of stuff because it's not competitive and you don't keep score. Kids hate it. On the other hand, any sport that involves throwing stuff at each other is a big hit. Pun intended. And by the way, none of this "no head shots" malarkey. In our world not only are head shots allowed, they're encouraged.
And so, I have a little secret for all the psycho-babbling eggheads who want to destroy the single greatest game ever invented - life is competitive. It's sometimes hard. You get hit. You get back up. You figure out how to stay alive and advance. Sometimes you have to be aggressive and have a killer instinct to be successful.
Just like in Dodgeball.
Things got so bad a couple years ago that I had to change the name of the game we play in my classes. We were strongly recommended not to play Dodgeball, so we played a game called Avoid the Sphere. The rules were, uh, strikingly similar to Dodgeball . . . O.K., they were exactly the same. Anyway, technically it wasn't dodgeball. Actual conversation:
Principal: "What did you guys play in gym today? Was that Dodgeball?"
Jackson: "No, no. We don't play Dodgeball. We played Avoid the Sphere."
Dodgeball players fall into several distinct groups, just like in life. As you read these, try and picture people you know in life and what group they'd fit into. Here they are:
- The Attackers are the aggressive go-getters, the players who are always on the move. They're hard to hit, hate to lose, and are always on the offensive. I love The Attackers. Think they'll be successful? You betcha.
- The Slackers are the ones who drift to the back, don't really try to get out of the way, basically just hope they get put out early so they can go stand on the sidelines and watch the game, and life, pass them by. The Slackers ask to go to the bathroom a lot.
- These are the guys who like to sneak around the side and nail you in the back. They'll lay low, creep slowly up without drawing attention to themselves, and before you know it you're drilled right in back of the head. Know anybody like that in your life? That's what I thought. This technique usually works early on in the game but as the numbers dwindle the laws of nature take over and one of The Attackers takes them out in a violent manner. That's always satisfying to watch.
- Ah, The Plotters. Always scheming and planning, always looking to make alliances, only to turn on their friends in the end for their own advancement in the game. As The O'Jays said it best, they'll smile in your face, but all the time they want to take your place. Once again, The Plotters are a reflection of the real world.
- The Invisibles are exactly what you think they are. I've seen a player run right by an Invisible and go after someone else without evening noticing. Invisibles remind me of an animal that stands still to avoid being eaten. Once they move or start running they're dead meat. Just as in your life or workplace, you have to watch out for The Invisibles.
- And finally, The Cheaters. The Cheaters will flat out ignore getting hit if you're not watching. They'll swear on their mother's life that a ball that blasted them in the temple missed them completely. Cheaters will do anything to win and would rather climb a tree and lie than stay on the ground and tell the truth. Cheaters can ruin it for everybody, tearing the very fabric of the world's greatest game.
It's a microcosm of life.