34 things to do at your PlayDay - and more

When we were at the TASP/IPUSA conference, I was approached by a wonderfully glowing woman, Dr. Joyce Hemphill, PhD., who, carrying copies of both The Well-Played Game and Junkyard Sports, immediately endeared herself to me.

Dr. Hemphill, who teaches a Play Class at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, leads a PlayDay Initiative, which, according to the site, "is an initiative to bring free and unstructured play back into the center of children’s lives."

"Free and unstructured play," the site explains, "offers many benefits to a child’s physical, social and cognitive development and is being slowly removed from daily routines due to issues such as parents working several jobs, over-scheduled free time and the systematic reduction and elimination of recess in our nation’s schools. PlayDays, which can range from a matter of hours to an entire day (England), are beginning to gain popularity in the United States and Madison, Wisconsin is at the forefront of this movement."

Looking at the site, I discovered why my books were so valuable to her, as exemplified by this list of recommended PlayDay activities (and even more ideas in the library of photos of past events) - almost all of them in one way or another, using junk. "Junkyard Sports," Dr. Hemphill explained, "is a source of constant inspiration. The Well-Played Game helps us understand why."

Needless to say, I was conceptually dancing the Dance o' Glee.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Sports continues

I've been working on my keynote for The Association for the Study of Play and International Playground Association conference. I was looking around to see if there were any excerpts from my Junkyard Sports book still online. I came across this article on Fredericksburg.com - inspired, apparently, by an article I wrote for Kidscoop.

It's a collection of ideas for Junkyard Sports, contributed by elementary school kids.

Here's one:

Do you like soda? Well, drink a whole can of soda, crush the can, get out some brooms and play "Soda Can Hockey." You play this game by going to a cement or blacktop area, and take a piece of chalk to draw a very large rectangle. Put the can in the middle of the rectangle and then form two teams. The goal is to use your broom to push the can across your opponent's line for a goal. That is how you take some junk and make a junkyard sport.

--Clair Huffine, fourth grade

Mary Walter Elementary School,

Ms. Baker's class

I am delighted beyond measure to have found this. It is exactly the kind of thing I would hope would result from my work.

It is success.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Games

It pleases me significantly to announce, proclaim, and otherwise acknowledge the availability of Junkyard Games, an "innovation simulation" based on my variously named Found Object Tabletop Olympiad, a.k.a. The Junkyard Sports Tabletop Olympiad, et. al.

Many are the insights one could draw from a comparison of the game, and the simulation based on it. You might, for example, have already noted how the "Found Object" component inherent to the concept of Found Object Tabletop Olympiad has been replaced by a cunning collection of pre-found objects. Interesting. By including three identically cunning collections of intriguing objects, the Junkyard Games simulation controls for chance - what each team accomplishes has nothing to do with the objects it has in its collection, and everything to do with the collective creativity of its members.

The instructions in the simulation (developed by Ron Roberts) differ widely from those of the Found Object Olympiad. Again, they help the experience be much more carefully focused on the performance of the teams. Observers record all the ideas that are generated during the brainstorming sessions, and later all the redesigns that are inspired by the first run-through of each of the games. These observations prove instrumental in helping participants focus on the process of innovation (while the Found Object Olympiad game is focused pretty much on whatever strikes participants as being the most relevant to their particular interests. The detailed instructions for processing the experience that are part of the instructions in Junkyard Games further aid in focusing the experience towards the social dynamics and processes that accompany collaboration and effective innovation.

So what you have in Tabletop Olympiad is an open-ended game that is as funny as it is collaborative, that encourages creativity and playfulness, and creates an experience that can be applied to an understanding of many different social processes. And what you have in Junkyard Games is a subset - a focused, carefully managed experience designed to shed light on the unique dynamics of innovative teams. Each is instructive and fun. Each is a valuable, teambuilding experience. Each makes people laugh. Each is something in which I am proud to have had a part.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Andyball

All you need are a bunch of friends, a place to play, "a soccer ball (size 5, preferably the Brine Matrix 100), two street hockey nets, two lacrosse (goalie) stick, and eight cones" - and you've got your basic Andyball. Andyball - a genuine, certifiably sportly sport, with teams and leagues and stats and uniforms and devoted fans and a meaningful invitation to serious, all-out, competitive fun.

How did it all come to pass? Divine intervention? Exhaustive plotting and planning by the National Commission for Athletic Events? Actually, according to their historical synopsis, it went something like this:
"On July 14, 2003, four bored teenagers from Quincy, Massachusetts met to do something. Having been turned away from the Shaw’s NBA Summer League at UMass Boston, where they had hoped to see a young LeBron James take the floor for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the gang regrouped back on the concrete tundra of Dayton Street in Quincy. The foursome, made up of Joe Griffin, Steve McDonagh, Andrew Potter, and Brandon Ranalli, would quickly find themselves down a man after Brandon’s mom made him come home for dinner. Steak dinner. Left with a treacherous trio, Griffin, McDonagh, and Potter, batted around ideas of how to enjoy themselves on a fine summer evening. They thought about playing basketball, soccer, hockey, football, wiffleball, and pretty much everything else. None of these, however, seemed to satisfy the deep longing in their souls for something new and different. With the light growing dim and the mosquitoes fast approaching, the gang quickly improvised. Rooting through the McDonagh household’s basement and backyard, they came up with a soccer ball, a hockey net, and a lacrosse stick. Using their Quincy Public School-educated brains, they quickly brought together these seemingly unrelated weapons of fun into a new game that they played well into the night, only pausing to watch Garret Anderson defeat Albert Pujols to win the Home Run Derby."
And the result, six years later, something worth playing. Something that clearly started life as what some would refer to as your typical Junkyard Sport, and went beyond to become something worth watching. Something worth celebrating. Something known to those who know it, as Andyball.

If there's anything else you need to know about Andyball, you can probably find it on the Andyball website.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Sports Found Object Tabletop Olympics

Ask me what game - of all the wacky and sometimes profound works of play art that I've created in my 40-plus years of wacky and profound play art creation - I played with the top creative people at LEGO.

No. It was Found Object Tabletop Olympics.

Earlier this year, at the LEGO Design Conference, it and I reached some kind of apotheosis. It had a lot to do with our reaching the right audience at the right time. One of the participants, Lucius Margulis, took copious photos of the event. Here is his post, and below, a compilation of his photos and clips.



Found Object Tabletop Olympics event is based on the approach to play and creativity I described in Junkyard Sports. But it is the first Junkyard Sport I designed where the materials (junk) are truly "found objects" - totally random, collected from whatever the participants happen to have with them at the time, or can find in the room.

It was a big step for me, letting go of deciding exactly what junk people will get to play with. I had built the book and the concept around the art of assembling just the right collection of materials that would help get people to play and think together. And then discovering that without any special junk it was just as much fun and just as profound - and much, much easier to produce. I'm not saying that it's better - assembling a collection of the "right" materials is an art in itself - just that it works, that it's still fun, still meaningful. A different kind of meaning, though, because the "junk" comes from what people have, and what they are willing to share, and what the people who provide the room leave around.

So the whole thing takes on an extra meaning - letting people find their own junk helps them discover the wealth of what's around them, at their fingertips and in their very pockets. Helps them discover the wealth of resources they have to play with, and the people, too.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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DIY Soccer

boy holding a homemade soccer ball

From our friends-in-spirit at Afrigadget , here's how to make your own soccer game:
"Firstly you look for old clothes or blankets. Then you put a few condoms around, which you blow up with your mouth, but not with too much air. Just so it’s the same size as a soccer ball. After this you put either a plastic bag or a piece of old clothing over the condom. Then to make it strong, you tear up the old clothing or blanket into long strips and tie the strips all around the condom to strengthen the shape of the ball and make it heavier. Once you can feel it bounces well, you take a strong plastic bag and wrap it around the ball. Lastly you reinforce it by wrapping strong rope or tire wire around it."Maybe you are surprised but let me tell you about the field. It is not a play ground or a park but it is a field that is full of drains and the half of it has a long grass and some kind of a wetland and a dumping place. And as we all know that when you are playing soccer you need scoring nets. These boys don’t have scoring nets, but take wood or cardboard that is in the carpet and make poles."
Read the whole article, and be sure to look at the commentaries and links for more, here .


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Löffelfußball und Poolnudelhockey

Löffelfußball und Poolnudelhockey, a.k.a. Junkyard Sports. Now available in Germany.




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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BagBall - how to make a ball out of plastic shopping bags

One of the sad truths of being in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, is the amount of, well, pollution. It's just not something you'd expect to see in the capitol, for heaven's sake, of the Holy actual Land!

One form of pollution comes from the proliferation of plastic shopping bags. They're everywhere. You can't go shopping without coming away with a half-dozen or so of these colorfully indestructible, everlasting wonders of modern technology. There are these large cages where you can recycle them. And the cages are often full. But there's the other part of the problem - most people ignore any attempt to keep the city clean. And there are attempts, believe me.

So, as a parting gift, this video, on how to make a ball out of plastic shopping bags.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Talking about Fun in Israel, cont'd

A few days ago, I got to talk about Junkyard Sports with some key people at the Peres Center for Peace.

Once I learned that despite the images and rumors and rage beyond reason, there are people who are working with undiminished passion to create peaceful, even playful dialogue between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians.

Yes, it's become far more challenging. Yes, it's difficult to get people to want to play together. Of late, they tell me, especially when meeting with adults, people are too impatient to play. Anything that seems like fun gets dismissed out of hand. People want action, resolution, they want to be heard, they don't want to, if you'll excuse the expression, play games.

On the other hand, the people I met with, leaders of the "Twinned Peace Sports Schools" and "Twinned Peace Theater and Cinema Schools" and the "Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum," each and all recognized the need to bring yet more play into their offerings, yet more creativity, more spontaneity, more fun.

The Conversation
:

So I talked most about idea of Junkyard Sports, because it seemed to me that this concept could prove the most flexible, the most adaptable, the most fun. I showed them the news clip from the Junkfest we did at Redondo Beach. I gave them a 5-minute demo of The Junkyard Tabletop Olympiad. And they understood it all - implications and applications. Just about immediately.

The sports people talked about how easily sports can transcend culture. One reported how, as a child, he had played his own junkyard sports. His associate, being raised in a kibbutz, described how that's how the kids played almost all the time - using junk, making up their own rules. I mentioned how valuable it would be, just if kids knew how they could make a really good ball out of some of the thousands of plastic grocery bags that have become ubiquitous throughout Israel. The director of Culture and Media saw what a powerful community event it could be: green, fun, celebrating ingenuity, engaging creativity at all levels. The person who organized the meeting and leads the NGO forum, was naturally concerned about how adults would respond to this kind of experience. So I talked about the uses of Junkyard Sports in a training environment, described how it was being used in Southwest Airlines, and specifically in light of the kinds of conversations that might result after people had created and played a Junkyard Sport together.

Conclusion:

It may not yet be the time, and fun probably isn't going to solve anything. There will be challenges - like bridging the differences between language, culture, dogma. But I somehow knew that these people who are very much looking for the opportunity to teach peace, to heal anger, to build community, to bring more fun into the world - wouldn't let anything stop them. Even in Israel. Even now. Maybe especially now, especially in Israel.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Golf at Southwest - cont'd

Remember when I wrote about how a training group at Southwest Airlines tried out a game of Junkyard Golf? Well, you have an exceptional memory. That was more than 4 years ago.

Recently, there was a post on the Southwest Airlines Blog - "Nuts about Southwest" in which we learn that they've been using their own particular version of Junkyard Golf ever since! Here's how the post starts:
"We've all heard the age-old expression: 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' But what about PVC pipes, plastic cups, fuzzy doodads, and other random tchotchkes found in any office setting? They too can be repurposed for a higher calling. In this case, it happens to be for the annual weekend of 'Camp Culture' for the MIT (Managers in Training) Level II training class here in Dallas."
I must say - yes, I apparently really must - if the business training relevance of the Junkyard pudding still needs proof, here, then, it is. For even more, see this in the nevertheless much-respected Handbook of Structured Experiences.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Talking about fun in Jerusalem, cont'd

Charlie Kalech arranged for me to meet with some of his clients and colleagues today to conduct a short symposium on The Fun of Work. Needless to say, a fun and deep dialogue ensued.

The highlight, naturally, was when we played a game. The game: Tabletop Biathlon, of course. (What you might call "Tabletop Olympics" when played with two teams. I've come to regard this game as one of my personal best. Every time I play it, I learn something else about fun and work and people and life and stuff.)

Pictured here is Charlie, sitting next to a waste basket, holding a paper airplane and a paper ball - the key elements of one of the two sports developed for the Tabletop Biathlon. Both events (the other, business card bowling) were exactly what I had hoped they would be - innovative, a bit silly, and most definitely fun. The paper airplane game involved trying to throw a paper airplane into the basket, whilst opposing athletes tried to knock it away with paper balls. It is today's featured game because it was developed in Israel. The connections to current Israeli events are too obvious to point out. And the subsequent laughter too profound to convey.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Street games everywhere

Street Games are informal sports, adapted to environment, the materials, and the spirit of the people playing. They are played without adult supervision, without official people or equipment. They are games that you can take very seriously, sports with loose enough rules so that you can play with just about anything, anywhere, with just about anybody you want to play with.

Playing in the street is probably as old as streets themselves. Streets are a natural playspace, depending on the traffic. Just take a look at Breughel's painting of maybe 200 middle-age children (though they may look middle-age, they are in fact children at play in the middle ages) playing more than 80 different children’s games.

In the late 19th century, most of the games Street Games Culin reported on were played on streets that led into vacant lots or were surrounded by fields or crossed rivers and train tracks. By the middle of the 20th century, streets were bounded by houses and each other. Around this very time, most of the games that were still being played in the streets – especially in the streets of big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and London - became the very games most commonly cited as “authentic” Street Games: Wall Ball, Stick Ball, Box Ball, Hand Ball, Stoop Ball, Skully. Jacks, Marbles, hopscotch, and Double Dutch, too.

For the World War generations, Stick ball and Skully would be grow to be considered the archetypal Street Games. Stick ball would become an official sport, as much like baseball as possible, originally played with a stick for a bat, an old tennis ball for a baseball, a sewer lid for home plate, a car and a sign post for first and third. And frequently no second base at all. And now played on Stick Ball Fields with official Stick Ball Sticks and even Stick Ball Balls.

Skully is like marbles, only instead of marbles it’s played with bottle caps filled with candle wax, and instead rolling, you slide the caps, like little shuffleboad pucks, and instead of playing in a circle, you play on a big rectangular, chalk-drawn field of lines and boxes.

Skully and Stick Ball, like all Street Games, originated as informal sports, adapted to environment, the materials, and the spirit of the people playing. (There are games you can play with half a ball, for example, with just three people, if you have to.) They are played without adult supervision, without officials. They are games that you can take very seriously, just like real sports but their rules are just loose enough to let you can play with just about anybody you want to play with. Street Games can, and have, become formalized, and commercialized. You can buy official sticks for Stick Ball. Official Spaldeens and Half Balls, too.

Street Games are continuously changing and adapting to their environment, to the players and the evolving technologies of play. There are still kids who are playing in the Street Games spirit, but the streets they play in, and what they play, and whom they play with, are, for the most part, a far cry from the way we played Stick Ball. They still play their own Street Game versions of baseball and football, soccer and hockey, but they play for the most part in their private yards or on the sidewalk, and they have nerf balls and whistling nerf footballs and portable street soccer goals and hockey pucks that hover. And yet, as far as everyone’s concerned, they’re playing something very much like what we called Street Games. They are playing in a way so that everyone can play. They are all players. They are all officials.

Though played on Razors and skateboards and BMX bikes, modern Street Games, like all Street Games, are replete with intricate tests of agility, opportunities for invention, and performances of death-defying originality. Each, like the classic Street Game, remains somehow informal, adapted to the environment, materials, and spirit of the people playing.

Street Games have their virtual equivalents in video games, especially in games that involve physical movement, like the Wii, or, slightly earlier, Dance Dance Revolution, each with its many different game playing modes, where players get to choose to cooperate and compete, follow and lead.

In every expression, it’s the dynamics of Street Games – how they are organized and maintained, how they are supported by their community, how they engage players in learning, teaching, designing, and leading open-ended play contracts, where you can change the rules, where winning isn't the point, really, where it's all about getting to play - that are most instructive.

When you begin to explore how a Street Game is governed, how it empowers its players, and becomes redefined by the way they want to play together – you discover an almost perfect reflection of the social architecture of successful communities – neighborhood and national, physical and virtual.

Street Games are remarkably easy to overlook. Many parents who moan over their children's inability to play manage to ignore the Street Games being played all around them.

Part of the reason that parents overlook the Street Games they’re own kids are playing is that they can’t see them. That’s because Street Games are being played on a very different kind of street from those of their parents. Street Games take place everywhere, but most often in spaces noted anthropologist Victor Turner called these spaces "liminal" - spaces that comprise an unofficial, temporary, anybodyland; spaces that exist between buildings and sidewalks, steps and parking lots, between front yards, across fences, behind the library and garage. “In between” spaces. Like the Internet.

Street Games are governed, officiated over by the people who play them. Just like the, oddly enough, Internet.

And, like the Street Games of the past, Street Games of today are played mostly by children in their liminal years – not-yet-adults, too old to be seen as kids – and are played everywhere.

Even on the railing of the library steps. Even on the cell phone and in chat rooms. Even on the Internet.


See also:

Iona and Peter Opie's Children's Games in Street and Playground, Norman Douglas' London Street Games , and especially the Streetplay website.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Extreme Wheelchair

Here, from the new video site "Webby Talents," an inspiring video of junkyard wheelchair play: Extreme Wheelchair:




About Webbytalents, from the site's producers:
"Webbytalents is a new website sharing for films made by or for people with disabilities accross the world. It is also a new kind of platform at the crossroads between a social site and a site media designed to break down barriers for the world's disabled.

"On Webbytalents you’ll be able to share and discover videos from around the world. Nonprofits and organizations, Webbytalents helps you publicize activities and events. It is also a good way to learn about disability from different countries.

"Everyone can participate and become an agent of change for better integration of disability."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Theater of Games (Cont'd)

Near the end of my session with the Primary conference, we started a conversation about kids and theater. I had mentioned my background in theater a bit earlier and one participant was eager to talk about her experiences in getting her kids to put on plays. She described what great delight parents had in watching their kids perform, and how good the kids felt about being in the spotlight. She mentioned that she did have to work hard to keep the kids focused on learning their lines and especially how challenging it was for the kids to endure the rehearsals. But again, how it all paid off during the performance.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time before I could whip-up a semi-cogent response. A couple days later it occurred to me that we all had a similar experience, right after the end of playing Junkyard Olympics, as each team got to demonstrate their event - not only demonstrate, but actually engage the other team in a world record-setting trial - in fact and actuality experiencing the very benefits that were attributed to children's theater, without the pressure, without the supervision or directorial guidance or pained memorization, all for the fun of it all.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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A Handout for a workshop on "When Teaching is Fun"

I used my Mac and a projector to capture some of the thoughts that were generated during my workshop at the Primary conference (a gift from my "Technography" days), and appended them in a notes file to the handout I had prepared for the session.

As you might glean from those notes, what I hadn't prepared for was the depth, creativity, enthusiasm and playfulness of the core participants, all of which was revealed in its fullness in a short game of Tabletop Olympics (a.k.a. Junkyard Olympics, and soon to be known as "The Junkyard Games"). What you see in the photo is a spontaneously generated version of Junkyard Bowling, which, according to its re-inventors, was clearly a sport of Olympic proportions.

All of which gave me a sense of hope for education. Somehow, despite all the bureaucracy and standards and testing that has dominated the inheritors of the No Child Left Behind legislation, there are still teachers who believe in play, who make things fun, even when fun doesn't count.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Fun of Teaching and Learning

With a little help from friends and bloggers, I'll be launching a new series of programs about the Fun of Teaching and Learning. The programs will include presentations and workshops that focus on the psychology, sociology, and dynamics of fun in learning and teaching.

As advertised, they will be about the fun of teaching as much as the fun of learning, and I hope to offer them at every level of education.

Some of the concepts and experiences I'll be including in the program:

For me, being in a position to make education more fun has been a lifelong goal. I figure that's a far more sustainable goal. I'll be offering the program for modest, negotiable fees, wherever I can.

I could most definitely use your assistance in word-spreadage.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Giant Tepee of Giant Cards

Giant House of Giant Cards, as a matter of fact, was in deed played at the Giant Card Event and Finals as the final project of the USC, School of Cinema - Television, Interactive Media Department's Fall, 2005 course called "Experiments in Interactivity I.

Giant Card-wise, there were two major Giant House of Cards-like mini-events. One was depicted here, of course. But the second, more classically tepee-like, somehow, until this moment, escaped our well-deserved collective attention.

I direct your attention to the two "cards" on top. You might note that these cards are basically naked sheets of cardboard, cut to card size. Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to matter to the giant card tepee constructors, at all, in the least.

Which might make you think next time you decided to make a giant set of cards.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Submit your "Sport of the Future"

Here's the description of the contest:
Do you have an overactive imagination? (We lost our years ago.) Are existing sports not doing it for you? Then dream up a sport of the future and send it our way! Be brief in your description (under 150 words, please). Include basic rules and why you chose the sport. If we like it, we might just give you a shout out. Oh, and please, no BASEketball!
Where do you think I found it? ESPN, obviously.



(I submitted the Postapocalympics)

See also: Baseketball


via Bill Harris

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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New Sports for the Post-Apocalympics

I've been doing a bit of youtube-scouring of late, searching for candidates for the world's first Post-Apocalympics. I came up with three, at least.

Extreme Knockdown Chess

You've no doubt heard of Chapay that Russian version of checkers that is really a game of billiards played on a checkerboard with, well, checkers, and of course pool cues. And yet, oddly enough, you probably haven't heard of the American equivalent - Knockdown Chess. Actually, not so surprising, given that it was only recently invented, by, actually, this guy.


Bicycle Tire Toss

Then there's the equally recently invented sport of Tire Toss - a giant quoits-like game requiring a porch, fire hydrant, and several many bicycle tires.


Sock Fighting

As modeled by Ashley and Sophie, the invention of Sock Fighting anticipates a time when we might have to things like this for real, or face a future of blistering socklessness.




From Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Crolf

Crolf, in case you wondered, is
"a beautifully simple game that can be played by everyone, in any garden where a ball will roll. Hand-made in England the game comes with an easy to wheel trolley and includes 4 hammers, 4 wooden balls, 6 hools [the three way hoops that you shoot through], 6 pins, 4 markers, full instructions, a set of Crolf Laws [only 9 in all], and, of course, a brolly to shade your summer drinks."
Why do I love thee, Crolf? Let me count the ways (I get three):
1. I love thine Hools - thine three-way croquettish golf hole/hoops that seem so much more approachable from so many more directions, and yet so easy to place or displace.
2. I love the Junkyard Sports-likeness of thine silliness - the silliness of the name, the joyous absurdity of trying to play something like lawn croquet in someplace very unlike a flat, well-manicured lawn.
3. I love how thou dost manifest the spirit of playfulness and taketh it beyond the confines of officialdom and tournamentality.
Not that this is the first time there has been something golf/croquet-like. Apparently, there was something Crolfish patented as early as 1925. And Dick Schafer reports on yet another version of Crolf - one that might be called "Snow Crolf" or perhaps "Snolf."

But what and where is Crolf? Well, there's a course in Custer, South Dakota, at the Americas Best Value Inn. A Miniature Crolf course, no less or more, for yet further Crolfish contemplation.

via Roger Greenaway


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Archery Golf, seriously

Archery Golf is in all likelihood the one variation of golf in which players take the term "fore" very, very seriously.

Sorry. It was something I had to share. Here's a slightly more inspiring observation: This has to be one beautiful sport. When you think about golf, and that teeny, tiny ball, and how delightful (and challenging) it can be to watch the ball in flight, you can almost vividly imagine the attraction of watching an arrow as it arcs its way towards an impossibly distant target.

This is the second time I've written about this sport (here's the first). This time, I am pleased to bring you further evidence of the beauty of the sport, by way of a most inspiring site, from a most devoted archer/golfer, Eugenio Ciocca. Ciocca is one of the few people to have designed archery golf courses and probably the only person to develop an Archery Golf System for training, equipping and providing for all the glorious needs of the archery golf enthusiast.

Though combining two different sports to create something new is an almost fool-proof technique for creating what I call a "junkyard sport," it is rare when the technique works so beautifully, and the result is so spectacularly playworthy that it attracts the devotion of someone of Mr. Ciocca's ample talents. Whether you play golf, pursue archery, or just know about the sports, a visit to the Archery Golf System website fun and inspiring.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Beer Can Game

They (you know who) say that kids don't even know how to make up their own games anymore nowadays. You know, what with all that homework and moms on helicopters and sitting at the computer. That's what they say. Here, contrary to all that common sense and conscientious concern, more evidence of the persistence of playfulness and the plethora of junk to play with:
"Waiting for the traffic to clear at MIS after the NASCAR race, we invented a little game to pass the time. You basically kick beer cans on to the other persons side of a line and try to keep them on that side."

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In the Spirit of Street Games and Junkyard Sports

People will tell you that the days of game invention, like those described on one of my favorite game sites, Streetplay, are over - that kids are spending all their of their precious childhood online or in Little League, and are bereft of opportunity or motivation. Well, don't waste your time mourning. The Internet virtually abounds with proof that the spirit that led the last generations to the creation of new games and sports and ways to have fun is as alive as you are. Witness Joe and Jord's Ping Pong Squash Game



and, in like manner, Sky Soccer




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Swing-Ball

Swing-Ball, a game played with a soccer ball, and, well, swings, thusly: "...the Red Team in the field (players 1 and 2) and the Blue Team on the swings (players 3 and 4). The game is divided into two halves, with each team spending one half on the field and one half on the swings. The two players on the swings have the option of choosing which direction to face and whether to swing in tandem or in opposing directions...The goal of the Red team is to pass the ball between the two poles of swingsets without the Blue team making contact with the ball. Each time this occurs, the Red team earns one point. Each Red player is allowed just two touches of the ball before their teammate must touch, or the ball is given to the Blue team. The Blue team, meanwhile, will attempt to block and gain control of player 1's attempted pass. They have an unlimited number of touches and may tap the ball to each other to set up a preferable kick."

I'd most definitely call this a Junkyard Sport. The designers incorporated what for soccer players would be deemed "junk" - a swingset, in this case - and used it as the pivotal, so to speak, focus of the game. This is the kind of thinking that transcends boundaries, that integrates the real world into the world of play, that engages new skills, and creates opportunities for the expression of excellence, and the frequently actually fun opportunity to fall off a swing.


via Strange Games


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard Sports in the Funny Paper

Fun with Junk

Getting the idea of Junkyard Sports to the masses, especially to the family masses, seems to be proceeding apace - a very slow pace, but proceeding nevertheless. The first big break was the article in Famly Fun Magazine. The next, and most recent, is in a publication called Kid Scoop.

It's an issue devoted to junk. And you can download your very own copy. Your very own, full-page, color copy, or, should you desire to print it out and distribute it to the many, your similarly very own, classroom-ready 6-page, black-and-white copy.

Kid Scoop, should you wonder, is distributed internationally, and appears in 350 newspapers around the world.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Chididerod Urban ididarod

"The Iditarod is the famous long-distance race in which yelping dogs tow a sled across Alaska. Our Chiditarod is pretty much the same thing, except that instead of dogs, it's people, instead of sleds, it's shopping carts, and instead of Alaska, it's Chicago."



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Bucket Ball

Bucket Ball
"At the start of the game each player stands facing the other a few yards apart. Both have placed their feet into plastic buckets, one on each foot. For children playing the game a standard bucket is usually perfect – for adult players you may need to search a garden centre for larger specimens. Players hold in their hands an equal number of small balls. The aim of the game is to throw and get as many balls as possible into either of your opponents buckets whilst avoiding too many in your own."

via Strange Games

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Tabletop Sailboarding

As inventor of the Junkyard Sports TableTop Olympics and in my capacity as Bernie DeKoven, Junkmaster, I hereby award the creators of Tabletop Sailboarding permanent position in the Junkyard Sports Hall of Games .

California Parks and Recreation SocietyIt was at the CPRS 2008, Long Beach conference . And I was facilitating a bit of Tabletop Olympics amongst 5 tables of people who run parks and games all throughout California.

Many most remarkable Tabletop Olympics moments were shared. Many, many events of noteworthy notability and truly silly competitiveness. But there was this one table (I really like to learn your names if you were a tablemate) that happened to have, amongst its various shared personal treasures, some significant conference swag. Namely: a couple battery-operated hand-held fans, and some Lego pieces, and a fingerboard. And they put their stuff together to create a well, Tabletop Sailboard, I guess is what you'd call something made out of the fingerboard, a couple Lego pieces, a toothpick and a scrap of paper. And their Olympic Event was a hand-held-fan-powered Tabletop Sailboard event that proved to be at least as funny as it was demanding of Olympic-like concentration and skill.

Fingerboard SailingBehold, therefore you beholder, the Tabletop Sailboard, as fuzzily photographed on the right. Whilst beholding below the slightly less fuzzy image of a Tabletop Sailor in action.
man blowing fingerboard sailboard with handheld fan
Now and forevermore embedded in the virtual bedrock of Tabletop Olympics History.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ruffles Flyer

Take a look at the airplane this guy made one day at lunch "from the bag that held my potato chips and the toothpick that was in my sandwitch."



Junkyard Model Airplanes
.

Airplanes, made out of found office junk. Cool-looking airplanes that really fly.

A whole nother Junkyard Sport, don't you think?

via Make Blog

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Fairy Chess

Fairy chess, explains the Wikipedian, "is a term in a chess problem which expands classical (also called orthodox) chess problems which are not direct mates. The term was introduced before the First World War. While selfmate dates from the Middle Age, helpmate was invented by Max Lange in the late 19th century. Thomas Dawson (1889-1951), pioneer of fairy chess, invented many fairy pieces and new conditions. He was also problem editor of The Fairy Chess Review (1930-1951)."

"On the other hand," comments the Funsmith, "Fairy Chess is an invitation to a cornucopious collection of what can only be called "Variant Chess Games," or, shall we say, more ways to play chess than you could shake a pawn at."

"Fairy Chess," continues the Funsmith, eyes akimbo with conceptual glee, "is, in fact, the chessular embodiment of Junkyard Sports, New Games and every one of those noblly playful efforts to return the power of play to the hands, hearts and minds of the players."

See also, the Piececlopedia


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Chunky Baseball

I found today's story on a blog called "Ebenezer Stories"
"This past week, in the absence of soccer practice, my young men have invented a new game. You will chuckle at the name. It's Chunky Baseball. It even has a theme song. I don't know why it got that name or what the rules are. When I've asked for an explanation, they just sort of sigh as if to say, 'Well, Mommy, it's really complicated and you just have to go out and play it to understand it.' So, I'll be content to remain in the dark about the intricacies of this new game. But what I love is that my boys, together with a neighbor, friends from church, a homeschool buddy, a cousin, and others, have spent every gorgeous fall afternoon this week OUTSIDE!!!! Being creative, exercising, having fun. They come in with bright eyes and rosy faces. We made a trip to the store to buy a bigger, brightly colored ball with which to play the game, since the small red rubber ball they'd been using kept getting lost in the thick stand of monkey grass that covers our neighbor's entire front yard.

"I have heard that this generation of kids doesn't know how to play games, doesn't get enough exercise, sits in front of the computer or the TV and lets their brains turn to mush. Maybe if there was a Chunky Baseball game going on down the street, those kids would forget about Halo or whatever else it is they play, say goodbye to their facebook buddies, and head outside. Maybe playing Chunky Baseball would revive their mushy brains and strengthen their atrophying muscles. Maybe they'd find out that being outside, creating a game is way more fun than staying inside playing simulated tennis on a Wii. I don't know. I'm just glad that around here real kids are playing real games in the real outdoors. It seems that there is no end to their creativity when it comes to games."
Please, please share this with those people who want to teach kids how to play. Use it to remind them that kids already know how to play - physically, socially, intellectually. The only things they need from us, pretty much, are: 1) to be given the space to play in, and 2) the time to be left alone, and maybe 3) something fun to play with.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Socetball and Water Baseball - more lessons in the art of Junkyard Sports

I googled across an old Atari forum where people were having a discussion about "made up" games. Here's one example:
"We made one called socetball where you take a soccer ball and a lowered basketball hoop. You kick get one minute to kick the ball, and hit the backboard for one point and make it in for two. You do this with two people and play for two rounds. In the first one will kick and another will get the ball. And in the next round the person who kicked will get the ball and vice versa. Whoever has the most points at the end of the two rounds wins. It was a very fun game but we don't play it a lot anymore."
I liked especially the last line: "It was a very fun game but we don't play it alot anymore" - because it reveals yet one more characteristic of Junkyard Sports. You invent. You play it a few times until the game gets very fun. And then you let it go and invent the next one. That's part of the freedom and the message. The obligation is not to the game, but to the fun of making it fun.

And then there's Water Handball:
"i made up 1 wih a friend at a swimming pool its called water handball...l u use a nerf sort of ball that is round and as small as a baseball or softball and u play as if u wer playing baseball but wen u pitch u must skip the ball acroos the water... there is no bat u must use ur hand to hit the ball...then u must swim base to base..u play 2 outs and u can either peg the runner (throw the ball at the runner and if u hit them off the base they're out) or u can tag the runner...u play 2 outs and first 1 to 21 wins....u can also make an imaginary home run fence...it is also a great 1 vs 1 game.."
"...skip the ball across the water." You can't be having a conversation about how to play baseball in a swimming pool and wind-up with something like ball-skipping. That's one of the fundamental truths of Junkyard Sports-making. The gameworthy delights of things like pitching-by-ball-skipping are not derived by speculation or explored by theorizing. Only by playing.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Hallway Games

"From the outset of last year, my roommate (who I also totally dominate in all physical competition) hung his hats on tacks from the storage loft over the windows. I followed his lead, and pretty soon we had a full mantle of dangling headwear. We also had a small foam ball, and, after a few weeks, a whole set of rules printed and hanging on the wall. One person knelt near the door and threw the ball at the hats. Hitting a hat was one point, knocking it down was three, and there were all sorts of other modifiers for caught balls, multiple knocked-down hats, and even defensive rules for the other players. We also invented a game (more of a free-for-all, actually) that involved clearing all furniture out of the living room, turning the lights off, gathering pretty much every ball we had in the room, and throwing them at or tackling anyone else who was playing. This game could get a little violent, and was made doubly scary in my room where, again, one of my roommates was significantly more of a 'physical specimen' than the rest of us. That said, it was great fun and I’d recommend it to anyone so dedicated to indoor recreation."

found here.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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JunkFest

From CNN, aired Dec 2 and 3, a quick clip describing my first ever JunkFest - a celebration of play, community, arts and athletics - honestly.

You can read more about it here, and watch the clip right actually here.




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Penny Football

Penny Football - you know, that soccer-like, footballish game you play with three coins - the game you probably played in the cafeteria - the one where you have to slide or push or flick one coin between the other two?

Nowadays you can even play it online, if immediate satisfaction is what you desire.

It's actually the same game that's called Three-Coin Hockey, a game that's similar in out-of-pocket coinitude to Shove Ha'Penny Football, for which you'll also need a comb or two and the ability to understand many, many rules.

But not, of course, to be confused with Penny Rugby - which, as you well know, is played with only one coin and many, many rules.

Junkyard Sports, each and all, don't you know.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkfest - Final Report

Click this
I wish you could have been there. It was, in its small way, an historic event of significant proportion. The artists (the Junkyard Symphony and car artist Steve Classic Jasik ) provided everything you could hope for - representing the spirit of play, creativity, and repurposing with great passion, warmth and humor.
bernie leaning on 2way car
(your local Junkmaster, posing proudly in front of Classic Jasik's 2-Way Car )
The games were significant fun - inviting creativity, inclusion and playfulness, exactly as you might hope.
sock golf
Flying Golf
giant pick up sticks
giant pick-up sticks
volleyball with a trash bag
Giant Pick-Up Sticks and 4-way Trashbag, two-level Volleyball - all presented a genuine invitation to play, each offering a different level of physical and social activity.
Recreation leaders from across Redondo Beach participated in a two-hour training and intense cardboard construction. We had a great write-up in the Daily Breeze . Even the local cable channel came out to help document this landmark event in the celebration of the spirit of fun.
Senior Services led the junk swap and much junk got swapped..
Maybe 50 people attended. OK, so it wasn't what you'd call a huge success. On the other hand, given the goings on in the rest of the world, it was a genuinely remarkable celebration.
Holding up box of "Cheer"
(photo by Peter)


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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90 Seconds of JunkFest

The following clip is purportedly to be aired locally (South Bay area, Southern California) on CNN Headline news on 12/3 and 12/4 throughout the day, 24 past the hour and 54 past the hour.

Click this

car hood saying "junk fest"


Comments invited.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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DIY Fun

Right there, under the banner:


The all-new, totally improved, sacred-son-suggested Official Junkyard Sports Slogan:

Do-It-Yourself Fun

Brill, don't you think? Descriptive, wouldn't you say, of the entire Junkyard Sports approach to the universe, is it not?



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkfest Report

girl playing on junk music instruments

I wish you could have been there. It was, in its small way, an historic event of significant proportion. The artists (the Junkyard Symphony and car artist Steve Classic Jasik ) provided everything you could hope for - representing the spirit of play, creativity, and repurposing with great passion, warmth and humor.

bernie leaning on 2way car
(your local Junkmaster, posing proudly in front of Classic Jasik's 2-Way Car - here's a clip of the car in action)

The games were significant fun - inviting creativity, inclusion and playfulness, exactly as you might hope.

sock golf
Flying Golf

giant pick up sticks
volleyball with a trash bag
Giant Pick-Up Sticks and 4-way Trashbag, two-level Volleyball - all presented a genuine invitation to play, each offering a different level of physical and social activity.

Recreation leaders from across Redondo Beach participated in a two-hour training and intense cardboard construction.

We had a great write-up in the Daily Breeze. Even the local cable channel came out to help document this landmark event in the celebration of the spirit of fun.

Senior Services led the junk swap and much junk got swapped.

Maybe 50 people attended. OK, so it wasn't what you'd call a huge success. On the other hand, given the goings on in the rest of the world, it was a genuinely remarkable celebration.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Cardboard Tube Fighting League

The Cardboard Tube Fighting League, despite appearances and adult-like anticipations, is a highly disciplined, well, maybe not highly, but at least somewhat disciplined play fight.

I exemplify by citing the admirably explicated rules:
  1. First Rule of CTFL: Don’t break your tube. In a duel, the last person with an unbroken tube is declared the winner. In the event that both participants break their tubes at the same time, the game is a draw, and both duelists are considered losers.
  2. No stabbing. Lunges involving tubes are never allowed under an circumstances. Participants who exhibit this behavior, will be ejected from the entire event.
  3. Try not to work the face. Hitting people in the face is heavily frowned upon and can force your ejection from the event.
  4. Once your tube is broken you must stop fighting.
  5. To participate you must be using an official CTFL tube, which will be provided at the event, and have signed a release waiver.
  6. You may not block your opponents tube with your arms hands or legs.
  7. Your tube must always be held near the bottom. Holding your tube in the middle at any time is illegal.
See this for more photos, videos and stuff.

via Laughing Squid

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Table Frisbee

"You need a table, lubricated with washing-up liquid and water, and a disc."

And thus we learn about yet another Junkyard Sport-like event: Tabletop Frisbee-spinning. True in all its dimensions to the nature of sportish events, it involves timing and grace, agility and focus, and has the potential to astound.

via Grow-a-Brain


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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World's first Junkyard Sports® Tabletop Olympics

Junkyard Olympics HighdiveIt was 2007. October 11. The morning of. Let's say mid-morning. In Atlanta. At the North American Simulation and Gaming Association conference. During my workshop, during which I had planned to spend 90 minutes exploring the various learning ramifications of what I somewhat blithely referred to as: The Junkyard Sports Paradigm.

Because it was NASAGA , and because the people who had registered for my workshop had listened to my keynote and were still planning to come, I found myself inspired enough to want to try something brand new - something I had thought about for many a month, but hadn't as yet actually tried.

And thus was held the world's first Junkyard Sports® Tabletop Olympics.

We had three groups of about 5 players each. Each group was seated around a banquet-worthy round table (officially called a "round").

Their assignment: using whatever you can find in your pocket or purse or elsewhere, create a miniature, tabletop, Olympic-like event.

What you are seeing in this photo is one such event - the High Dive Ski-Jump. The Jumper/Diver (a.k.a. "quarter") is being coached by participant Dave Matte to roll between the two blockish objects (hence kept on edge, so to speak), down the notebook-like ramp, hopefully to land in the glass of water. Yes, some points were awarded for hitting the glass or chair, even. A second team-member, the Jumper/Diver retriever, stood off camera, waiting to catch the rolling quarter before it reached the floor, for that critical extra point.

High JumpThis was, as you have so intuitively grasped, but one of a minor Olympic myraid of tabletop events, such as, for example, the High Cup Jump, depicted here. Unfortunately, so enraptured were we with our collective cleverness and so deeply impressed by our finger-powered feats of athletic prowess, that we forgot to take any other pictures. And so, the memory fades. The world's first Olympic Croquet game, for example - played with many coins and paperclips and things, simultaneously, in the round - now, despite lingering echoes of all that laughter, partly remembered, partly imagined.

Yes, yes, I wax poetic. Because the Junkyard Sports Tabletop Olympics is everyrthing I had hoped it would be, more than I could possibly have dreamed it would become. An invitation to laughter and teamwork, to creativity and sharing, to surprise and appreciation. Regardless of position, age, gender, family, nationality. And all you need is whatever you have. Pocket junk. A table. People to play with.




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Antietam Drive Sports Complex

"Antietam Drive. To the untrained eye, it's just a quiet, rain-soaked suburban Jersey road on a rather warm February morning. To a man whose lived almost his entire life on this road, save for the first few weeks of infancy & four years of college not in a row, it's the still remains of an Olympianesque game arena. Sure, there are still children who live on this street, & I'm sure they love it dearly, if not now then when it's their turn to grow up. But they don't play on every square inch of it like my friends & I did. They can't look at that picture & point out at least 5 prime hiding spots. Or a bike ramp, or a finish line, or second base."

Thus begins Mike Fireball's historic tour of his neighborhood, seen from the unique perspective of a kid at play. Here's more:
"After dinner, my front porch there became the jail for a nighttime game of what we called Jailbreak, & what you probably know as Manhunt or Freedom or Spring... or whatever you called the "1-2-3 you're my man no breaksies" variation of tag with teams. Odd how an entire country of children can play the same game & call it by a different name. Not as odd as the fact that an entire country of children used to pretend that the floor was lava & the couch was some kind of magic, lava-resistant boat, but still something of note."

See also Suicide


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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ArtCar Fest - A Whole Nother Junkyard Sport

It's the The Art Car Fest! "The West Coast's Largest Gathering of Art Cars!" And you're looking at "Tom Kennedy's 'Ripper the Shark & Max the Fin Truck'" - Tom Kennedy being one of the artists whose presence will grace the First Annual Redondo Beach Junkfest.

The West Coast's Largest Gathering of Art Cars!, for goodness sake!

"The unique aspect of our medium," say the Fest-designers, "is that we bring art into the world every day as we drive our vehicles to work, to the store and on the highway." Very fun stuff, these art cars, transforming reality, like all good art.

ArtCars. Another kind of Junkyard Sport, it seems to me. A whole nother kind.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Improvisational Sports

I found my mouse pointing me to this video on the Internet.

Here's the only explanation of I could find:
"Milwaukee kids pass a summer's day in what one of them calls 'The Ghetto Olympics' -- doing back flips and other gymnastics on mattresses stacked on the ground. They're joined by a man who was driving by and stopped to relive a bit of his childhood."
And I find myself watching and watching and thinking: "improvised sport," and "Hmmmm," and "isn't that what Junkyard Sports are/is? Improvisational sports?" and "Ghetto Olympics?!" and isn't it even more cool that we have yet another name for it? Improvisational Sports? Sports that you make up as you go along, so to speak, even though there's a, also to speak, 'script' with roles and rules and stuff."

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The Best Homemade Mini Golf Course Ever

It is always gratifying to see evidence of the spirit of Junkyard Golf manifesting itself on the edges of the Internet.

Here, from YouTube, The Best Homemade Mini Golf Course Ever

Note how the designer keeps to the "assemblage" spirit of Junkyard Golf - not really securing anything to anything or ataching anything - just putting things together.

Not also the devotion, dedication, degree to which this whole silly thing is taken seriously.

  • Hole #1 - " up the hornby railway track , around the hotwheels bend & fired into the hole"
  • Hole #2 - " up and around the three loops and then fired into the hole"
  • Hole #3 - " up the hornby track down the videos and fired into the hole"
  • Hole #4 - " along the piano, some how. oh yeah, then fired in...
  • Hole #5 - " up the hornby track and fired up the tube and into the hole"
  • Hole #6 - " up and then down the hornby track, then fired into the tube and then in the hole"
  • Hole #7 - " up the hornby track and fired off the sofa into the hole"
  • Hole #8 - " up the tube and then fired back down the tube into then hole"
  • Hole #9 - " up the hornby track then fired against the tube, the tube falls over and the ball rolls along the piano into the hole"

see also: The Best Homemade Domino Golf Course Ever



via Junkyard Sports

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The Wrong Stuff

One of the hopefully unintended consequences of the whole sports industry - from physical education and soccer camp to Sports Networks to shoe commercials - is the message that we have the wrong stuff. We have the wrong kinds of bodies, the wrong kind of equipment, the wrong kinds of clothes. In sum, what we have and who we are isn't good enough.

In a way it's a valuable message - one that challenges us to improve ourselves, physically and materially. And for those of us who are motivated by that challenge, it proves to be a remarkably successful path to self improvement.

Unfortunately, those people are in the minority.

For the vast majority of us, the message is: you're not good enough. You don't have the right stuff. You're not made of the right stuff. And you never will be.

And for these people, the only path is consumption. Watch others play sports, eat granola bars and trail mix, drink sports drinks from sports bottles, wear athletic socks and shoes and t-shirts, eat vitamins and subscribe to health publications.
Junkyard Sports, Junk Art, Junk Music - these are celebrations of the wrong stuff - of all the fun we can have, the art we can create, the joy we can share with the wrong stuff. With the stuff that is thrown out, rejected. With torn socks and pantyhose and plastic shopping bags, water botles and newspaper and bubblewrap, we can make games of deep and lasting fun, we can make art that makes us laugh, music that makes us dance. We can play we can dance, we can create, all of us together, fat and skinny, English and Hispanic, seniors and juniors, able and labeled.

With the wrong stuff.

And the right mind.

from Junkyard Sports News

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Sports Inventors

Sports Inventors. They are meant to be a joke. You can even see how much of a joke they take themselvs as by watching their video.

Lacrastickball But, you see, we who are the promulgators of Junkyard Sports, we know that such jokes are the very stuff, the very meat, the very core of new and meaningful paths to peaks of playful performance.

As in, for example, Bowling Shotput, as illustrated in the video.

Not to mention Lacrasticball, as also illustrated here.

I select but a few of my favorites from their collection of half-formed, undescribed, yet clearly inspired conceptual leaps:

  • Crocockey - English croquet meets full-contact hockey.
  • Darchery - extreme barroom darts played with a mini crossbow.
  • Double Racketed Tennis - six-foot-long pole with a racket head attached to each end - doubles with half as many people.
  • Escalator Surfing - the Zen of surfing balance performed while standing on a descending escalator step.
  • Extreme Tetherball - three-tiered professional tetherball.
  • Fat Abner - oversized baseball bat for easy contact. (After baseball inventor Abner Doubleday).
  • Golfzilla - aggressive full-contact golf with running, blocking, tackling, and bigger holes for more hole-in-one's.
  • Hackie Bag - beanbag chair-size hackie sack.
  • Horseshoe Tag - players wear spiked helmets and try to ring toss one another.
  • I Got It Mitt - oversized baseball mitt for the visually challenged.
  • Jet-Ski Jousting - just like the medieval equestrian competition except played on jet skis.

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50 Ways to Use Your (Pool) Noodle

There's something inherently funny about saying the words "Pool Noodle." Go ahead. Give it a try. Say: pool noodle, pool noodle, pool noodle. See what I mean? Even thinking about a pool noodle, a noodle in a pool, a pool full of pool noodles is kind of fun. And playing with a pool noodle, in a pool, of course, sitting on one, lying on one, lying on several...fun, all fun.

Well, what Chris Cavert and Sam Sikes tell you what you can do with pool noodles, on the land, even, is every bit as fun, and even more inventive than that. They've written two noodle books, as a matter of fact: 50 Ways to Use Your Noodle and 50 More Ways to Use Your Noodle.

Now, before I go any further, I want to warn you. Page through these books, and you're going to want to invest heavily in pool noodles. At about $3/noodle, we're not talking junk. Though you could purchase Tubular Polyethylene Foam Pipe Insulation, Pre-Slit, 3/8" Wall Thickness, For Use On 1/2" Copper Pipe Or 1/4" Iron Pipe, for maybe $3 for 4 3-foot sections. Which is more junk-like, but not much cheaper. Not only are you going to want to buy many, many pool noodles (at least one for each player), but you're going to want to (dare I mention this? yes, yes, I must) cut some of your noodles into 3-foot "Midaronis," 3-inch "Minironis," and 1-1/4-inch "Meatballs."

OK, by now you get a good sense of the tone of the whole thing: fun, funny, creative, inventive. So you're ready for at least one game. Like, for example, Balloon Volleyball, played with Midaronis. Do I need to explain this any more? Everyone with their own Midaroni. Trying to hit a large balloon over a volleyball net. Do you need me to tell you what fun this can be? Or how about the baseball-like "Bustin Burgers" game - where one player sails pool noodle Meatballs to the Midaroni-swinging batter?

You might not expect the more creative activities, like the semi-self-explanatory "Noodle Doodles." And in all likelihood, you wouldn't have begun to anticipate the group team-building, problem-solving aspect of the whole thing, with exercises like seeing how many Meatballs or Minironis two people can hold between them. And yes, in the 50 More Ways book you'll even find pool noodle games you can play in the - can you believe it - pool.

Together, the Noodle books are a treasure of creative, playful, problem-solving fun that should prove an invaluable resource to any youth leader, team builder, or provocateur of playfulness.


RE: Noodle Economics

Chris comments: "we found that the foam pipe insulation is okay for some of the noodle book activities, however, it doesn't have the rigidity for most games. Also, you lose the "visual" pull the colors have. Even though you might pay $3.50 (or so) for a noodle, you'll cut the long ones in half - thus cutting your cost in half. And, as long as the participants don't pick on or chew the noodles they last a very long time - the return on investment is great. Bonus: if you buy in the fall they are really cheap - stores don’t like to warehouse them because they take up so much space (some stores give them away to educational programs just to get rid of them before the winter months)."




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Stone Skipping

(voice hushed)"Welcome once again to the World Stone Skimming Championships, to be held once again this year at Easdale Island, Argyll, Scotland, September 23. Stone Skimming, or, as you Yanks have it, Stone Skipping. And, yes, and ah, the excitement is palpable, is it not, the anticipation fairly overwhelming. Each competitor, don't you see, is allowed 5 skims using specially selected Easdale slate skimming stones. For a skim to qualify the stone must bounce at least three times - it is then judged on the distance achieved before it sinks, last year's winner having achieved a remarkable 63 meters, in deed."

In deed. And in fact. Stone skipping or skimming is what one must call an archetypal Junkyard Sport, at least until someone invents plastic stones, or some such. And it is very much alive and significantly well, both hither and yon.

According to this article from the New Scientist, when not competing for distance, the Stone Skimming record is 38 bounces. Whilst according to the North American Stone Skipping Association, the record is actually 40. Well, doesn't that beat all?

via Strange Games

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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