Dodgeball – Scarborough, ON

The 1900’s Ottawa Silver Seven, The 50’s Canadiens, The 70’s Steelers, The 80’s Oilers, The 90’s Bulls – Dynasties are the pinnacle of competitive sports. The only thing better than winning a championship is winning a bunch of championships. This testament to greatness is made even sweeter by the fact that your consecutive wins prevent other teams from ever tasting true success.

When I joined the Hurlin’ Hooters for a Dodgeball tournament I thought we could be part of that elite group.

The Saturday event was a fundraiser for Variety Village, an inclusive recreation and training centre, and a centrepiece of my childhood and adolescent development.

The rules were standard dodgeball-fare, and identical to the film that shares the sport’s namesake. The idea of playing on a full basketball court had me concerned; frankly I didn’t think anybody could hit me with a ball from 40-feet away.

With our uniforms together, we took to the court for our first game with no signs of a strategy.

About 60 seconds into the first game I was still alive, and standing in the centre of the action looking to snag a fast moving sphere. Two of my opponents, both holding their balls, stepped up to the half court line. One threw a high lob above my head, as his teammate held his ball for a split second. My senses tingled and the flashback happened: I had seen this before, in grade 6 when I invented it. I pretended to glance skyward, waiting for the direct throw from his teammate, as I saw his arm cock back I stared him down, tensed myself and pinned his line drive to my chest as I side-stepped the aerial attack previously mentioned.

First lesson of the tournament learned: things that worked in elementary school don’t work here in the big leagues.

The second lesson would soon be comprehended, which also threw me back to my elementary dodgeball days: accusations of cheating are integral to the sport of dodgeball, they have nothing to do with childish, immature, grade school behaviour. It’s part of the game.

By the time the semi-finals rolled around, the Hurlin’ Hooters had long grown accustomed to our rightful place on the bleachers. But during these final games, the refs, who had all been on their own courts for the preliminary action, conjoined to follow the NHL’s lead and put two officials on every court. Chaos ensued. The refs had each been calling their own slight variations of the official rulebook, which had no real impact until the end of one semi-final when a controversial “holding two balls” rule was called to end the game and send the “Blue Balls” or “Handle our nuts” through to the gold medal game.

By the time the gold medal game rolled around the Hurlin’ Hooter’s focus had shifted to the “social” part of this “sport and social” evening, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mark and Zoe at the Village for running an excellent first annual Variety Village Dodgeball Sport and Social. Well done Mark and Zoe, well done.