The official site of the Sandmeier School Dodgeball Club, featuring the history of dodgeball, dodgeball variations, and rules for dodgeball.

Friday, March 31, 2006


The History of Dodgeball

When and how did dodgeball originate? Historians don’t know for certain, but they do have some ideas about ball playing in general. One disgusting hypothesis is that when ancient armies conquered their enemies, they would play a primitive kind of soccer using their enemies’ heads as the balls. (We won’t be doing that in Dodgeball Club).

Later, human heads were replaced with animal bladders, which can be blown up with air like a balloon (and are more readily available than human heads). This is why, even to this day, the inside part of a football is called a bladder. These were used not only as balls but as canteens for water. Perhaps these bladder balls weren’t as strong as players would have liked, so they were covered with sewn animal hides (leather) to provide them with additional strength.

With the discovery of rubber (a natural product of several trees), balls became softer, easier to bounce, and less expensive. Balls could also be formed into more exact spheres.

Today, dodgeballs are made from synthetic rubber or rubber coated foam. Different leagues and teams prefer specific ball types, but most balls range in size from 6” to 13.”

But what about the game of dodgeball itself? Prisonball, which is a pretty close relative to the professional dodgeball we see on television, was played back in the 1970s on American playgrounds. Circle dodgeball was played even earlier, however, in the early 1920s. It probably began as a form of keep-away, and was most likely played in a circle in order to prevent balls from straying into busy streets or adjacent games.

In 2002, some school districts in New Jersey banned dodgeball, saying that it was a form of bullying because it allowed the strong to pick on the weak. The headlines in several newspapers read “New Jersey Schools Ban Dodgeball.” While true, these headlines led the rest of the country to think that all New Jersey schools banned dodgeball, which certainly wasn’t true. But the damage was done, and the rest of the country from that day forward thought New Jerseyans were a bunch of wimps. By the way, one of those schools also banned tag. Go figure.

Today, dodgeball is becoming popular again, due in part to televised dodgeball tournaments, Dodgeball the Movie, and a recent emphasis on team oriented fitness. Leagues are popping up around the nation, and the National Dodgeball League is even seeking to form professional dodgeball teams.

We at Sandmeier School believe that well-supervised, structured dodgeball can play a beneficial part in any school athletic program, and that every student, regardless of athletic experience and ability, can play and enjoy the game.