Rules for the schoolyard playground: Setting The Record Straight

My kids go to an elementary school about one mile from where I went to school as a kid, in the same NYC public school system, in a very similar looking brick building. Picking them up the other day as they got out of school and streamed into the courtyard brought back a lot of memories… Memories that I’d like to put to rest, by SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT.

The following statements are hereby proclaimed INCONTROVERTIBLE for ALL TIME. (Mostly backwards in time – I somehow feel that my kids and their classmates may not know what the heck I’m ranting about for some of these.) In fact, I just may write them up and nail them to the door of the school sometime (but only if I can come up with 95 of them).

THERE ARE NEVER “BACKSIES”. Yes, some kids call out “no backsies”. That does not mean that absent such a declaration, there are implicitly “backsies allowed”. Backsies are never allowed. If you have to be told “no backsies”, you are a putz. If you actually claim that the backsie should count, you are beyond putz all the way to cheater!

THERE IS NO “ELECTRICITY” FOR BEING ON BASE. Look, having a “base” (much less multiple bases) in a game of Tag is already Wuss Factor One. But claiming that people can transmit Basitude by touch or contact is Wuss Factor Ten.

IF YOU ROOF THE BALL, IT’S NOT A HOME RUN. You LOSE and so does your whole team! Especially if it’s my freakin’ ball you roofed! And it was foul anyway!

CATCHING A RICOCHET DOES NOT MAKE THE THROWER OUT AT DODGEBALL. Just because you caught the ball before it hit the ground doesn’t mean the thrower is out, this isn’t baseball and you didn’t catch a line drive or pop-up. If the ball hits someone, and that person doesn’t catch it, but it happens to fly up in the air and someone else catches it, the person who was hit is still out. (It’s a different story if the person who was hit catches it before it hits the ground – you can claim that’s a “juggle” scenario.)

IF YOU THROW THE KICKBALL AND HIT A RUNNER WHILE HE’S OFF BASE, HE’S OUT. Come on, what do you mean “you never heard of that”? You learned to play kickball in the same freakin’ school, with the same freakin’ kids, from the same freakin’ gym teacher as the rest of us, right?!

IF WE’RE FLIPPING BASEBALL CARDS, IT’S LEGAL TO KNOCK YOUR CARD ASIDE. This isn’t like golf where your position is marked for the record. Your card is “in play” and knocking it aside so as to get my card closer to the wall in the final position is not only legal, it is PART OF THE GAME and I WIN. Now gimme that Rusty Staub card!

On a more contemporary note, I noticed that all the classrooms now use whiteboards instead of blackboards, and dry erase markers instead of chalk. I reminisced about doing duty as an eraser clapper, where we had to take a bunch of erasers out to the door to the courtyard and clap the chalk dust off of them for the teacher. Except now I think: Hey, can I sue them for White Lung Syndrome?

LIES! ok, not really, but if you get hit with a dodgeball and your friend catches it BEFORE it touches the ground, we called that a “save.” The thrower wasn’t out, but neither were you.

Also, Whiteboards are SOOOO much better than blackboards. I’m freaking constantly covered in chalk dust when I get home, and I have to wash my fingers between all my classes cause I hate the feel of chalk on my hands (In Japan they still primarily use chalkboards, bastards…). Plus if you drop a piece of chalk it shatters into like 5 unusuably-sized pieces, and it’s always your LAST freakin piece of white chalk, too, and than you gotta write in yellow or red…

but yea, backsies are bullshit :wink:

If you do use Electricity, you at least have to sing the Schoolhouse Rock song while you’re using it.

Hey, I went to elementary school in Flushing and we didn’t have to clap together no stinkin’ erasers to get them clean. We were sent to a closet that held a machine that cleaned the erasers. I don’t know how it worked, it just did. Envy me and my clean lungs.

It passed them to us over in the Third World that was PS 159Q, that’s how!!!

kaff kaff kaaaff ah-choo!

Yeah, but how about “You give me frontsies, and I’ll give you frontsies?”

Backsies? Is that like a tag back?

We called it “frontsies-backsies”.

Basically, I’ll let you cut in line in front of me, but then you get behind me. It’s great for finding how many crybabies there are in line behind you. <Readies a major wet willie for robardin if he tattles>

Ah. Urban Dictionary said it was like no tag backs, but I do seem to remember this. It was pretty lame…

**RULE OF INFINITY **- In any “am not, are too” disagreement, one cannot invoke multipliers (am not 1000x, are too INFINITY, AM NOT INFINITY + 1) or “shield” which is the equivalent of “no backsies”.

Seriously, who the hell doesn’t know that?

Are so, one more than whatever you say.

Agree with the kickball rules, but not at all with the dodgeball rules. Ball isn’t dead until it hits the ground, and until it does so, neither the thrower’s fate nor the fate of those who got hit by the ball during its time in the air is decided. If the ball is then caught, the people who got hit are still in and the thrower is out. Same rules in the movie Dodgeball. That’s just how we played.


“Am not, are too” disagreements are best settled by one player becoming “deaf”, like so:

“Am not!”
“Are too!”

Soon the punching begins.

When playing capture the flag, no reaching across the line to yank someone over to your side to tag them. That’s what “challenges” are for.
Corollary: anyone refusing a challenge is a wuss, regardless of whether the challenger is twice your size.

Hurm. It looks like I’ll have to eat that one. The Official Rules of the National Amateur Dodgeball Association simply and clearly states:

And the movie “Dodgeball” agrees, depicting it as a team game. Whereas my perspective as a child was that it was really a one-on-one-on-one-on-one game, since the last person standing was the winner and there was only one ball. There wasn’t any team strategy the way we played it. If you hit a player and he was out, there was a scrum on the other side (the supposed “team” of the player so eliminated) to get it so as to be able to be the next thrower.

It was pretty much shooting fish in a barrel in the early going, since we played the game starting out as 15-on-15 or so, with 30 kids in a class.

Also, when we played it in the courtyard (as opposed to in gym class) there wasn’t even a line. We just got a bunch of kids and a ball in some area, and chucked-and-scrummed until there was only one kid left. It was a good day if one of us had one of those squishy red dodgeballs/kickballs. Playing dodgeball with a basketball hurt like hell.