Broomsticks at the ready: Quidditch and other kids' games go pro
Games popularized in parks, schoolyards, and novels – including dodgeball, foosball, Quidditch, and kickball – all now have international professional sports leagues.
| New York
Dodgeball is not just a Ben Stiller movie or anxiety-inducing gym class activity. It's a professional sport.
That's no Vince Vaughn joke.
The World Dodgeball Association, founded in 2013, is holding its second World Cup – this weekend in New York. Thirteen countries, including the United States, will be represented at Madison Square Garden on Saturday for the biennial tournament.
And no, it won't be on the "Ocho," the fictional ESPN channel featured in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," the 2004 movie. Instead, ESPN2 will broadcast a program on the competition Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. EDT.
At the first cup, in 2016, host England won men's and mixed doubles championship, and Australia took the women's title, in Manchester, England.
Don't look for players to cower behind friends as opponents hurl red rubber balls at each other – a common occurrence in middle school gyms for years before the sport was eliminated from many curriculums due to complaints that the game promoted bullying and violence.
Dodgeball has an official rulebook and serious athletes.
In fact, there are many games that were popularized in parks, schoolyards and even novels that have evolved into pro sports leagues with tournaments for the devoted.
International Quidditch Association
Dementors, sorting hats, and floo powder might forever be part of the Harry Potter fictional universe. A version of the flying broomstick game Quidditch, however, has found its way off the page and screen.
The International Quidditch Association World Cup is a biannual tournament where 29 teams compete to become the world champion. The US National Team won the 2018 title in Florence, Italy, on July 1.
Just as in the books, Quidditch requires each member of a seven-person team – three chasers, two beaters, a keeper, and a seeker – to keep a broom between his or her legs at all times. The chasers try to score 10-point goals by getting the quaffle (a volleyball) through a hoop. The beaters use the three bludgers (dodgeballs) to sabotage other players – if they hit an opponent, the opponent has to drop what they're doing and immediately retreat to a goalpost. The keeper guards the hoops. And the seeker will chase and pull off the velcro tail of the snitch – someone who runs around dressed in yellow – for 30 points.
World Adult Kickball Association
Better known as WAKA Kickball, this 21-and-over league is making the playground adult-friendly. The field is set up just like one in elementary school – four bases and a pitcher's mound, usually those floppy rubber ones. A rubber ball is pitched underhand across home plate and toward an opposing player, who will try to kick it then take off toward first. The defense can get a forceout at the base, tag the runner with the ball or throw it at him or her, as long as it hits below the shoulders.
Games last five innings of three outs each per team.
There's an annual Founders Cup World Kickball Championship in Las Vegas. This year it will be on Oct. 6.
The Golden Stick Wiffle League describes itself as "a backyard game taken way too far." Pro wiffle ball uses a perforated plastic ball so it can't be thrown or hit too far – and can be known to have crazy curves and breaks.
Teams in this league require at least two players, with a maximum of five. That means there can be imaginary baserunners, with the rules determining how far they can advance depending on the type of hit. Standings are determined by points, which are acquired by winning games at different levels.
There are two leagues, medium and fast pitch. Both have a national championship called the OPEN. This year's location and schedule have not yet been released, but last years was late August in Staten Island.
International Table Soccer Federation
Let's call the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) what it really is: a foosball league. Foosball is a table game with little men on sticks that are used to kick a small ball into the opponent's goal. Actual players control rows of these fake players fastened to sticks. They can only move the men from side to side or spin. Each side of the table gets four sticks or 11 foosball men. In this league, matches are best of five games with each game needing five points to win.
People can play alone or on teams; the ITSF offers both options.
The ITSF has five World Championships Series events on the five different official tables. It also has a World Cup every year, where the 60-plus-tournament tour comes to an end. This years is Dec. 28-30 in Pakistan.
American Corhnole Organization
Also known as bags, baggo, or bean bag toss – maybe even corn toss or soft horseshoes – the goal of this game is to toss bean bags through a fist-size (6-inch diameter) hole. That's it.
The field of play is two boards, each on an angle and set 27 feet apart.
A player stands next to each board and has four bags to throw. Once all eight bags are thrown, that frame of play is complete.
The American Cornhole Organization (ACO) awards three points for a bag that goes through the hole and one point for a bag that lands on the board. ACO plays with cancellation scoring, which means only one player or team can score in a frame. The first player or team to reach 21 points wins.
The World Championship of Cornhole was in Montgomery, Ala., on July 24-28.
This is not the game of tag kids play at recess. Not only are there obstacles to run around, the World Chase Tag (WCT) has teams, sets, and matches. A match breaks down into sets, and there are normally 10-16 chases per set. In each 20-second chase, there is one chaser and one evader – names are pretty self-explanatory. Whoever wins stays on as the evader, and the losing team must send in a new player to be the chaser. There are four people on each team, and teams get points for every successful evasion.
Tags must be made by hand in WCT.
The 2018 WCT 3 is Sept. 9 in London.
The US ProMiniGolf Association (USPMGA) sticks to the basic rules.
There are a golf ball and a putter. The miniature golf course must have 18 holes and be approved by the World MiniGolf Federation (WMF). The goal is to get the ball from the marked tee-off area into the hole – this area is called the lane – in as few strokes as possible. Lowest score wins in stroke-play.
The World MiniGolf Federation affiliate requires a player to tap out on a lane after six strokes. A point is just added to the player's score. Therefore, the highest possible score for a lane is a 7.
Much like the PGA, the USPMGA has a tournament schedule. The 2018 Master's will be Oct. 10-13 at Hawaiian Rumble in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 2019 US Open is set for May 23-25 at Mr. Putty's Fun Park in Tega Cay, S.C.
This story was reported by The Associated Press.