With a Hop, Skip and a Ro-sham-bo

Dodgeball image courtesy SUARTS, Flickr.com.

Dodgeball image courtesy SUARTS, Flickr.com.

They don’t tell you this in Lamaze class, but one of the most fun things about having kids is that you have the best of all reasons to behave like a kid again. As my son will testify to, I get just as excited as he does about dressing up for Halloween, hunting for treasures from the Easter Bunny and finding the M & M’s hidden in the popcorn while watching the latest Disney flick. And when Santa comes to town … don’t even get me started about all of the long-delayed pleasures a certain big bearded guy brings to a Jewish girl who has lusted after Christmas trees her whole life. Oy!

Given how much fun it is to yell “Yahtzee” at the top of my lungs, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that favorite childhood games like Four Square, Dodgeball and Rock Paper Scissors are being reclaimed by adults.

They actually gave away $50,000 at the first annual USA Rock Paper Scissors League Championship held in Las Vegas last month. Bud Light and A & E Network have signed on as league sponsors. I’m telling you, the duel may be all about the hands, but this sport has legs. Reportedly, Rock Paper Scissors is under consideration as an exhibition at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. According to a fake press release on the official USARPS website (www.usarps.com), International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is a huge Rock Paper Scissors aficionado who sees this competition as a tremendous way for countries to engage in mental battle and clearly determine which nation boasts the sharpest minds and quickest wrists. “The world will finally find out who has the mettle to medal,” Rogge says.

Sure. At least until Rock Scissors Paper gets ruined by steroids.

Hmm … I wonder if that Olympic archery competitor and actress Geena Davis will start training now that Commander and Chief has been canceled? She could always use her excessive height advantage to compete in Dodgeball, yet another childhood “sport” I hear is under Olympic consideration. Thanks in large part to the 2005 Ben Stiller movie, which played the sport for absurd comedy, the International Dodgeball Federation projects that it will have more than 300,000 sanctioned players by the end of 2007. According to the IDBF’s official website (www.dodge-ball.com) adults aged 25-35 are the sport’s largest and hottest growth segment. The Federation recently welcomed new leagues in Pakistan, Australia and Puerto Rico. Even though it’s also known as “war ball;” clearly the UN should be looking into incorporating Dodgeball as a possible peacekeeping measure.

Apparently my old recess favorite, Four Square, is back in vogue for adults as well. It’s one of the most popular sports in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with frequent tournaments and more than a dozen teams competing in an adults-only league. Norfolk, Virginia is a hotbed of adult Kickball, another of my childhood favorites. Stickball never made it to any of my Santa Barbara playgrounds, but apparently it’s big back east, where New Yawkers relive their youth in three different adult Stickball leagues. Kansas City has the Tag Institute, where kids of all ages indulge in variations of the game, Tag. Here in California, where we like a little showbiz with our sport, we have San Francisco’s Double Duchess Jump Rope Troupe, whose adult members do their acrobatic routines dressed in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms. My husband is not allowed to go.

“Not last night, but the night before

24 Robbers came knocking at my door…”

My toes immediately start tapping to the familiar rhymes. I’m having a flashback to fourth grade, where schoolwork seemed much easier to face after a few turns of the rope or kicks of the ball.

A little voice says, “Wanna play tag, mom?” brings me back to the present. “You bet,” I say. I may be older and slower, but I can still use my wits to dominate a six-year-old.

“You’re it,” we say simultaneously.

“One, two, three jinx. You owe me a coke.”

Anyone up for a game of Kickball? Email Leslie at email

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on July 21, 2006.