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The Opening Rush - Issue 9 :: Honesty is the Best Policy

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

This summer was an exciting and proud moment for U.S. Soccer. An inspiring display by the entire team and Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal against Algeria captured the attention of super fans and casual viewers alike. But there was a noticeable blemish marring the enjoyment of the game. No, not the vuvuzelas; actually, I like the atmosphere they set. I’m talking about the at times blatant lack of fair play and honesty by players. As a soccer athlete, even I had to groan when a player took an exaggerated dive to gain an unfair advantage. (See the ejection of Kaka in the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast match).

I think this brings up an interesting subject in dodgeball – honesty. With six balls thrown in various directions it can be challenging to determine who’s in and who’s out. Not even the great Al Kaplon can spot every line violation, and our recent Dodgeball World Championship left some people wondering “How many refs does it take to sort out a six-person team sacrifice?” In response, the National Dodgeball League has always endorsed honesty.

Sport is a contest held under agreed rules to determine the greater competitor. From an early age we are taught to play the whistle, let the referee make the call, and to do whatever it takes to win. Placing this responsibility on the referee gives athletes a freedom from conscience. As the saying goes, “It’s only breaking the law if you get caught.” Those believing they need to cheat to win will use this moment of dishonesty to gain an advantage. This conflicts with what sport is about.

The nature of dodgeball places this responsibility on everyone – the referee, thrower, catcher, and dodger. As participants we feel the wind when a throw whizzes by, hear the sphere graze our shorts, and see the rebound off our teammates toe. Nine times out of ten we know exactly what did and did not happen. It is in that moment, as the ball brushes our finger, where honor is proven by raising our hand and stepping off the court, or disrespected by feigning nonchalance and continuing to play. Like a modern day Lord of the Flies dodgeball can elicit innate survival instincts, and on the raw, untamable court of flying rubber our true character reveals itself.

Brett Batky, New York Epic #43

Brett BatkyNew York Epic, #43