Most of you are probably thinking: What the heck PK? Well, this all started here on Facebook a few days ago. A friend posted one of those “Facebook kind of things” …. titled….”Twelve things you don’t see in school anymore.”
One of the items on the list was Dodgeball. I made the comment that it was my favorite. To which she replied: “As I recollect, dodgeball was something we did when our gym teacher didn’t have anything else planned for the day. Maybe I am being too judgemental, but how hard is it to have your class just throw balls at one another?”
I gave promise to write about he nuances of Dodgeball. And here we are.
I will call her LouWheeze from here on out. So LouWheeze, you missed the bigger picture when given the opportunity to participate in one of the greatest sports on the planet. They even made a movie about it… after all.
It starts on the noblest of terms. The game is played, not with ONE ball, but with as many as ten balls. Clearly… this sport takes A LOT of balls. Those orbs are placed on the center line… still… silent…. balanced… waiting. Like Works of Art. On both sides of the court … the teams await. They are poised, ready to strike. The whistle blows and there is a mad charge toward the center line. Mayhem. Chaos. The atmosphere transforms from soundless calm to bedlam and uproar. This is called the Opening Rush. If faces were painted blue … this would be Braveheart for Second Graders.
From that point on, it is a game of reflex and skill. Strategy. Pick off the weak and unsuspecting at first. Use the back wall, the side walls, other players. One must be lighting fast, strong in arm, and keenly aware to succeed. The best of the best…. play fearlessly.
Within moments, it whittles down to a select few. The “eliminated” players are moved to the sidelines. They watch in anticipation, making guesses, or bets, as to who will win. Finally, there are the last two standing. This is similar to the graceful dance of fencing. Back and forth it goes. And then, the Art of the Game comes full circle. One player emerges the victor, having rolled to the right, while deflecting a shot, and coming out of the roll firing the final blow. No mercy. A skillful execution.
The crowd goes wild. The King nods his crown in a gesture of approval. The trumpets sound. Dodgeball.
It is a mix of ruthless finesse. Amazing…. astounding…. for a group of six-year-olds.
But. Truth be told. Dodgeball is fraught with undercurrents. The very best players are typically not the happy children they seem to be. No. They are tormented, or have something pent up inside. An explosion waiting to happen.
Admittedly, I was one of the best Dodgeball Players in our school. Timebomb. You see, for me… it was the “Get Lost Shrimp” Syndrome. I was the youngest child at home. What I “said or did” never carried much weight or worth. I was the youngest. While most of my siblings were kind people, the youngest has a tendency to get picked on. The runt of the pack. The low man on the totem pole.
Dodgeball was a way to emerge triumphant. To rule the roost. To make others duck and dodge for a change. The dispirited finally see their day to triumph. And while I was an otherwise mild-mannered kid… when I stepped across the red line on the Dodgeball floor, I became ruthless. That’s how that ball bounces.
But then something happened after all those years of Dodgeball. Fifth grade ended. And. I was growing up. Discovering other ways to find my voice. And so I did. I learned to express myself, in alternate ways. Like art, and science, and written word.
Yes LouWheeze, Dodgeball is filled with stratums, and layers, and underlying meanings. Thankfully, I grew away from the need to throw a ball at someone with all my might. There are probably some people who do not move away from that direction in life. And that is a new thing I am learning… how to become the Ducker, and the Dodger, in those particular situations.
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. — Saint Basil