I Believe in Dodgeball
I was seventeen. I had been courting a girl who introduced me to a church group that met every Wednesday to play dodgeball. Upon meeting them I was invited and accepted gladly. When I arrived at the church that Wednesday evening, there was a pregame social. Pizza and soda pop was the main course and flowed like the milk and honey of the promised land. I was able to get to know many of the men gearing up to play and they were kind gentleman. That soon would be identified as a façade.
The match began with a mad dash for our weapons of war. Yells and cries aggressively pierced the air as the balls were hurled across the court with the shear intent of causing pain and obtaining victory. Grunts of pain and cheers of conquer were heard as the war continued. Pain and chaos was all to be seen. This was the general attitude of those in attendance. After being pelted by the opposing team, I walked off the court and made a discovery; a man, Neil, not fitting the general chaotic mold.
I watched carefully as the intensity of his throws differed according to the person on the receiving end. His son when in the line of fire would receive a cannon blast throw that might as well have been propelled by a rocket. But Sean, a clumsy awkward boy, would cower as Neil would feint his heat and follow up with a gentle toss. Neil was a respecter of persons.
Others I noticed had their own styles. Mark would take note of who aimed for him and would only throw at them while letting others pass. He was vengeful. Roger would stand in the back as far away from the barrage of his opponents as possible while shedding extreme taunts. He was a coward in denial. Others would target those they thought had cheated and enforce justice. One man was hit unnoticed and he walked off the court without hesitation. What honesty! I even realized my irritation with members of my team lacking in ability.
A persons true character is revealed in dodgeball. Over the years I’ve been playing, I’ve enjoyed sitting out. Many people have entered and exited the court and I have always known them and myself better when leaving. That is the greatest benefit of the game, the opportunity to observe. What kind of friends have I been keeping? What kind of person am I? How do I perform under pressure? Who can I trust? Through the game, I better know who I want to become. Role models are easier to choose on the court.
Maybe dodgeball isn’t for everyone. But I have had the opportunity to observe, filter, and emulate. I now can work on my patience. That problem was identified on the court. My wife and children will thank the game someday. This is why I believe in dodgeball.