Dodgeball league catching on fast among adults

AT PLAY

At Play

June 07, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Mike Blevins came to Howard County Recreation and Parks as a sports coordinator last fall, he and sports supervisor Mark Pendleton talked about new programs. One of them was dodgeball.

Many adults remember dodgeball from their elementary school days. Now, the sport has made a comeback, as evidenced by a good response when the county started a league this spring.

Blevins said 60 players participated in the six-team league, which will hold its championship at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Harper's Choice Middle School. All six teams made the playoffs, which began two weeks ago, and the semifinals were held last night.

Blevins said he expects most, if not all, the teams to return for the fall league.

"The players seem to enjoy themselves, and I've gotten multiple responses from teams in the league [who want] to come back in the fall," he said.

The format for the league is simple. Two teams play a 6 vs. 6 game with six balls going at once. Four of the balls are 8 1/2 inches in size, and two are 5 inches.

The teams play seven games in the hour they're on the basketball/volleyball court. Teams receive a point for each game they win, and that total is used to seed teams in the playoffs.

"People seem to be having fun with dodgeball," Pendleton said. "I don't think it's as intense as [other sports]. It's not as important for them to win as it is for them to participate. They're just having fun with it."

Pendleton said he was pleasantly surprised with the response the sport got.

"I didn't really know what to expect," he said. "We threw it out there, and it was a pretty good response. It's a novel sport ... it's becoming more and more popular."

Dodgeball seems to be growing in popularity among adults and children throughout the United States.

The National Amateur Dodgeball Association said on its Web site that there would be several tournaments for all ages this summer.

Pendleton said that Recreation and Parks is always looking for new programs to start. Last year, a high school/adult field hockey league began with six teams. The league quickly grew to 10 teams this spring.

"We like to stay ahead of the game," Pendleton said. "We like to find sports that people are interested in playing, whether it's kickball or dodgeball, we want to keep people active ... and involved with sports."

Recreation and Parks also began a kickball league this spring, which has two divisions playing on Monday and Wednesday nights. Kickball is another sport from childhood that's growing in popularity among adults.

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