Dodgeball Science


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Biking home the other day, heard music. Followed the sound to where I knew I’d find it: Colonel Summers Park.

Every Monday and Thursday from 8 to 10 pm, there’s a series of free dodgeball games on the tennis courts. Depending on the weather, might be anything from a dozen to over a hundred people. Someone, somewhere will be blasting funky music. Usually it’s a guy named 515, who plays dodgeball barefoot (and shirtless) and makes custom speakers out of vintage suitcases. Little known fact: I brought 515 to his first dodgeball in the park experience. He’s been hooked ever since.

Wes is another one of the regulars. He doesn’t actually play dodgeball that often, but he shows up without fail. Last Monday was his birthday. Also, there was a camera rolling (not mine) so Wes was being particularly outrageous. He threw several small fireworks onto the dodgeball court and laughed maniacally as they exploded in the middle of the game. Then, got completely naked and jumped into it. Wasn’t streaking, he got in the game and started playing along! A few minutes later (with his clothes back on, thankfully) spotted Wes attempting to smoke a cigarette through one nostril. Total looney toon.

Just two of many characters you’ll meet on any given Monday (or less-popular Thursday) night dodgeball in the park. With so many young dudes releasing their pent up aggression, in what amounts to a harmless, some might say healthy way… free dodgeball at the park is a unique social microcosm, fascinating to study. Pondered whether this behavior has some unexpected evolutionary value. Returned to my senses just in time to dodge a fly ball.

“You’re playing a defensive game, even on the sidelines,” says the tall, lanky guy named Handsome Dave. He wears sunglasses a striped referee shirt, adorned with a red whistle. But he almost never uses it. (When he does, no one listens anyway.)

Last night, when the lights when out on the dodgeball game, the music kept playing and the entire park erupted into a dance party.

Highly entertaining! Even if you’re not a scientist.

Please don’t take it from me, see you there Monday.

 

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