The Relative Merritts of Sportsmanship in Middle School Dodge Ball

Grade 9. Big Ones. Little ones

The ninth grade is such a strange place.

Any memories that you may have of that place and time in your life? Unless you’re currently in grade 10 or 11, those memories are likely fleeting, distant and highly inaccurate.

And yet, here we go.

Grade 9 Gym Class

Dodge Ball.

The first?

I felt the wind of it on the back of my neck.

The second? I heard it as it left his hand.

The third? Left his hand and connected with the right side of Jason’s face.

Kirk was throwing high today.

Some days? Kirk would throw low

Sweep the knee

He’d take out your feet.

The result?

Vertical to horizontal in fractions of a second.

The same thing happened when Kirk threw high.

Once he connected, a little guy like me went from vertical to horizontal in fractions of a second.

Playing dodge ball with Kirk was an adventure.

Kirk was a boxer.

Kirk went to the Olympics.

Kirk fought KIitschko for the belt.

And when we played dodge ball in gym class in grade 9?

Kirk was deadly

And fun.

Which was nice.

Not all of the kids who were deadly were fun.

Some of them were deadly and mean. They sucked.

They could dish it out. But they couldn’t take it. If the wrong person hit them with a dodge ball? They would become vindictive as a group. It was like they were like some kind of dodge ball mafia. They were untouchable.

Kirk? He could give it.

And he could take it.

He was there to play.

And what is play if it isn’t about give and take.

If you can’t build that into your games why would anyone want to play?

If you always need to win, to dominate, to destroy the other, who would want to play with you?

One Derful Thing


The very words inspire a myriad of emotional responses.

Joy, boredom, annoyance, fear, excitement and anger all seem to be unearthed by Dodge Ball.

Let’s change our story around the words Dodge Ball.

Through your day, whether at home or the grocery store,

or work


At some point, when others around, shout / whisper / say loudly:


And then make a ridiculous erratic, dodging movement.

Better yet?

Find a friend somewhere.

Share this post with them.

Invite them to play dodge ball with you this way.


Every now and then

whether in person

or over zoom

or via text

or email.

Shout: Dodge Ball

And when they hear or read these words,

They play the game.

They dodge.

Then, they send the words back to you.

And on you go

Playing dodge ball

Without the pain.

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