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Issue 6 : Foam Balls

The Opening Rush: An inside look into the sport of dodgeball.

I've heard them called Rhino Skin. I've heard them called NERF. I've heard them called many things from many people, and every opinion in between. Foam balls are a part of dodgeball culture that can't be ignored. They've been introduced in many leagues, tournaments, and have even become the official product of the National Amateur Dodgeball Association. They're everywhere, and it makes a man wonder what to think of it all. It makes a man wonder what a professional in the National Dodgeball League thinks about those squishy, colorful spheres of joy.

Well, if you were to ask me what I thought of foam balls, you'd have to answer a question for me before obtaining the opinion you were seeking. "In what environment?" See, foam balls have tremendous value depending upon their application. Let's begin with casual play. What do I think of foam balls? They're a Godsend. To bring people into this sport, there is no better tool than the no-sting, family-friendly little orb in question. Whenever you ask someone to try the sport with you, what's the FIRST argument EVERYONE hears? "Well, I don't want to get hurt." This type of ball removes that barrier.

Foam balls work to the advantage of the amateur, because it also provides level footing. As a man who played with nothing but rubber balls since I knew what the game was, my first foam ball tournament was a disaster. I remember losing a game to a middle-aged mother because I had no experience with the equipment in question. Her throw made a beeline towards my hands, and took a quick dip causing her shot to bounce right off onto the ground. Due to the unpredicatable nature of the trajectory of throws when implementing this type of ball, even the freshest of amateurs can tag the most experienced of professionals.

So for serious tournament play? My professional opinion is to not even consider foam. Those who come for real competition despise the rhino skin balls. It's incredibly frustrating to see all the nuances of the game that have been acquired over many years fly out the window due to something like the type of ball in play. It's like choosing between Need for Speed and Mario Kart. And I don't think they have bananas in Need for Speed. Besides, it's so much more fun for a spectator when there are amazing catches, thunderous throws, and last millisecond dodges from players who can accurately anticipate where the ball is going.

In all honesty, I'm thrilled about the new amateur tournament divisions. Seeing this sport grow is what's most important in my heart. There will be a lot of new players having fun and not getting hurt. But for competitors like me, the only place is where the red rubber balls are at.

See you in Vegas,

Joseph F. Usry II, Dallas Dobermen #51

Joseph F. Usry IIDallas Dobermen, #51