Gym class. The proving ground for anyone who doesn’t want to be called a nerd, bullied, or otherwise picked on in grade school. A terrible meat grinder where only the most athletic are spared insult and injury. A battleground helmed only by a washed up and kind of creepy former college athlete and the two kids he chooses to be team captains. But as bleak as gym period was, there is no denying that there are certain wonderful activities that could only be found there. So we picked ’em. Feel free to, as always, pick your own in the comments.
2 rounds. Snake draft. Let’s go.
1. RobotsFightingDinosaurs selects Dodgeball
It’s the obvious choice, to the point where people will think that there’s something about it that’s not right, that it shouldn’t be the first pick because it’s too violent, encourages bullying, and a whole bunch of other shit. But that’s not what dodgeball is about. Teams aren’t picked in dodgeball, you number off. And the playing field is level. Even if you’re nerdy, uncoordinated, and not that good at sports, like I was, dodgeball gives bullied kids a perfect chance to get back at the bullies in a constructive way. It didn’t happen often, but the pride I felt as a kid when someone who had been bullying me tried to peg me with a ball and I caught it was immense.
You can hide behind the fat kids and take potshots, pretend like you don’t have the ball, goad people into throwing their dodgeball at you, removing their only shield– it’s a very complex game as far as kids’ games go. It’s not all about strength and speed. A bully will very rarely lose at, like, basketball or baseball. He’s just a bigger target on the dodgeball floor. Which is why it’s so fucking ass-backwards that it’s pretty much banned in school now.
2. Sarah Sprague selects Scooter Hockey
First of all, instead of adult kickball leagues there should be scooter hockey leagues. You’re working your legs, your core and your arms all at the same time in incredibly flurry of activity. As a kid, it was a great equalizer for children like me who were smaller than most because size wasn’t as important, it was coordination, stamina and reaction that made you a good scooter hockey player. I may have been a terrible dodgeball and kickball player, but I was a scooter hockey star.
(If anyone wants to start a scooter hockey league with me in LA, please speak up.)
3. Christmas Ape selects Capture the Flag
My favorite is when you have teammates that try really hard to strategize then someone inevitably LEEROY JENKINS it and just rushes for the flag and gets caught.
Ed. Note: That was me. Every time.
4. Eric Sollenberger selects Four-Square
Black magic, white magic, bus stop, four corners, man you name it I was all about it.
5. Johnny Sugar selects Ultimate Football
Like Ultimate Frisbee, but with a football. Probably more fun because of the dubious aerodynamics of the frisbee. Also, how did Ultimate Frisbee lunatics get left off of Magary’s bitchy bracket at Deadspin? Has he not met those people? As someone who attended college in the 2000s, I can tell you they’re the worst. But it’s fun when you play it indoors and with a football.
6. Old James selects Matball
I wasn’t even sure if this was a real gym sport, or something my lazy P.E. teacher invented to keep a bunch of shithead kids occupied for an hour, so I Googled it. Apparently it’s a real thing. Which makes me feel better. Because I OWNED at matball. “Why is this guy bragging about some sport he was ‘good’ at 20+ years ago?” you ask…well, I got a leg cramp walking up a flight of stairs a few days ago, so just let me have this one, OK?
7. Trevor Risk selects Wallyball
My grade eight teacher made us play this game he called “Wallyball” that was pretty much volleyball but you could bounce it off the wall and hit it as many times as you want. Basically volleyball for useless kids. That was fun. There’s some other game called “Wallyball” on wikipedia but I have fond memories of Mr. Bridges’ version.
8. PFT Commenter selects Kickball after giving me a wedgie for picking Dodgeball before he could
Kickball is a great life lesson that sometimes your just always going to be a nerd and Im always going to be better then you at kickball.
9. Big Sandy selects Crab Soccer
This one is particularly weird: making kids crabwalk and try to kick a giant ball that’s the same size as they are past another line of sitting kids. Have you ever watched a sugar-junkie 8-year-old try to crab walk AND kick at the same time? It’s a debacle. A hilarious, limb-flailing debacle.
10. StuScottBooyahs selects Red Rover
What a great game for kids. “Hey, hold your weak little underdeveloped arms together and this jock is trying to run through them at top speed!”
11. StuScottBooyahs selects Half-Court Basketball
Just like regular basketball, except with constant accusations of not getting all the way back to the line after a turnover.
12. Big Sandy selects Wiffle Ball
I was untouchable in Wiffle Ball, like Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro, Clayton Kershaw, and Jesus all rolled into one. That ball could *move*. Not that anyone could really wallop a wiffle ball very far, but it was a finesse game on the mound anyway. Unrelated: I probably have needed Tommy John surgery since I was 10.
13. PFT Commenter selects The Game Were You Put All The Balls On That Giant Parachute And Popped Them Up And All Around And Junk
I hid underneath it and started a fire once.
14. Trevor Risk selects Ringette
The gym teacher would try to teach us boys a lesson if we were being unruly by making us play ringette instead of floor hockey, because back then being emasculated was an acceptable form of punishment. We would get back at him by playing our asses off and taking it seriously and having a good time, which was probably the lesson he truly wanted to teach us.
15. Old James selects Grab Ass
The forbidden game. Because FUCK YOU COACH O’NEIL TIMMY STARTED IT.
/Snaps Timmy with a towel
16. Johnny Sugar selects Team Evasion
Despite the efforts Vincent Vaughn and Benjamin Stiller, dodgeball was still pretty unpopular among parents even when I got to high school. So, our gym teachers made up this clever euphemism for it, which I think is deserving of its own spot. I think there was some weird little tweak that it made it technically different from dodgeball, but damned if I remember what it was.
17. Eric Sollenberger selects Volley-Tennis
You got to use those kick-ass gatorskin balls. It was just like it sounds- you had teams of 6 and the ball was allowed to bounce on the other side once before your team had to hit it back. Any day you got to play with those gatorskins was a good day as far as I’m concerned.
18. Christmas Ape selects Butts Up
I’d argue it’s even more malicious than dodgeball. Probably why most schools have banned it, if they even allowed students to play it in the first place. The holy grail was when you had someone on the wall then you pegged the ball just above their head, deflected off the wall and nailed them in the junk.
Also, today I discovered there are like 30 alternate names for the game that I’d never heard of, such as “Fire in the Bum”.
19. Sarah Sprague selects Gym Theory
When I was in high school, all freshman had to take a second gym class for one semester called “Gym Theory” where you learned the rules and scoring system of every sport, and yes, there were tests. Sure it was a blow-off, but it was the one gym class you didn’t have to worry about rushing to shower and changing (LOOKING AT YOU SWIMMING SECTIONS) in less than five minutes before your next class.
20. RobotsFightingDinosaurs selects Climbing Up a Goddamned Rope
There’s no gym-tivity more satisfying when you finally get it right, because it was something that was truly impressive at the time. Even if you didn’t ring the bell at the top, if you made it off the ground and up the rope even a quarter of the way, everyone else would stand in silence. People got excited for this shit. Everyone is rooting for everyone else to get up that rope, and since it was so rare for someone to make it to the top, it was a BIG DEAL when it happened.