It usually came down to two kids. Happened to me in junior high. I was an uncoordinated dork with glasses and “husky”-sized gym shorts. On the other side of the room was a red-haired wolf who grinned and walked back and forth picking up balls, testing them for hardness, settling on a red Voit with a pebbled surface. I did not want to be hit. On the other hand, if I got hit, then everyone could play again before the bell, and I’d be a hero sort of, but on the other hand there was Pride at stake, personal OWWWW — didn’t even see it coming. Right in the head. Glasses went flying, the time-honored emasculation of the nerd. The coach blew the whistle and the war began anew. My “team” was mad because I’d held out as long as I had.
I gleaned a lesson from the public shaming: Better find something else you can do with your head, since getting it out of the way of moving objects isn’t your forte.
Should a parent want to bring back dodgeball, it won’t be hard. Start a private league and make it boys-only. Anything that smacks of a gender distinction will rile up some other parents, who’ll believe their daughter is deprived of an opportunity. A local TV station will do a story on her Struggle to enter the boys-club world of dodgeball, how she wants to break down the barriers that have kept young lasses from getting beaned on the brainpan throughout history. The government will get involved because the club meets in a building served by a public road, and uses air that has been purified by EPA standards, and hence receives federal benefits. So Title IX or XCML or whichever comes into play.
When she’s admitted, the newspaper will quote one of the young Neanderthals about his reluctance to hit a girl, and interview the coach about the difficulties of squaring the nature of dodgeball with the Message of Respect, but it’s all about equality, and frankly she’s got a helluva arm! Then the boys will have to go out and throw the ball as hard as they can at the girl, because it would be disrespectful to pull their punches.
Eventually the boys all drop out and it’s an all-girls league. Then dodgeball is the greatest thing ever.
– Mr. Lileks blogs at www.lileks.com.