Weird Adult Sports Reclaimed from Playgrounds

Are dodgeball, tug of war, and rock-paper-scissors weird sports for kids or a reminder of the history of the Scottish Highland Games? In the classic sports of Scotland, recess games like tug-o-war are featured. Does this mean that adults playing playground games has ancient origins? As it turns out, a review of the history of these assumed kid sports turned weird sports for adults will show how these are not kids games in the first place.

Dodgeball's cinematic to real life journey

A few years ago, grown men playing a regular recess favorite was highlighted in the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. The plot hinged around one gym challenging another over who was the toughest. It was decided that whichever gym was the best would be able to win a game of dodgeball.

While this movie featured a one time game, it is common in Eugene, Oregon for adults to play dodgeball as a team on a weekly basis at Playground Sports. However, this is not the same as the National Dodgeball League team, the Oregon Avalanche. Only one of many nationwide leagues, if the Avalanche wins the US trophy, they can go on to compete at the World Dodgeball Championship.

Tug of War Traditions

There is plenty of evidence that tug-o-war was popular with adults in 1500's Europe and Scandanavia. However, during the mid 1800's, the British navy and boat workers revived the trend. It continued to be a multi-national favorite for the next 100 years and was played at the Olympic Games from 1900 until 1920.

The game fell from favor for a few decades until The Tug-of-War International Federation (TWIF) was formed in 1960 in Europe. Later, the United States Tug of War Association (USTOWA) was founded in 1978. While it is still considered a weird sport or kids game in most of the world, it has gained notoriety with adults at the current Scottish Highland Games and public group physical activity demonstrations for traditional sports days in places like Japan .

Patriotic rock, paper, scissors is here to stay

TeachingHistory.org gives us a researched understanding into the roots of a game also called "Rochambeau." In it, they give the most relevant clue of the origins of the rashambo game from Len Fisher's "Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life." There, it states that, "(In 1781), George Washington is reputed to have played it with Cornwallis and the Comte de Rochambeau to decide who would be the last to leave Cornwallis's tent."

Today, we call it Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) and plenty of adults participate in the World RPS Society tournaments each year. The WorldRPS.com website also goes beyond athleticism and features participant artwork. To prove their history, their museum page shows old advertisements from past RPS tournaments from 1946. Although it is definitely a kids game made into a weird sport for adults, their multitudes of annual tournament competitors prove RPS and other playground athletics have been officially re-appropriated by adults.

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Updated Sunday, Oct 23, 2011