A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why Dodgeball could be the 5th major sport in North America! (hypothetically)

leave a comment »

English: Photograph of two players participati...

English: Photograph of two players participating in a charity dodgeball event (Lansing Area Credit Unions Coed Dodgeball Tournament) held near Lansing, MI at “The Summit at the Capital Centre”, a regional sports facility. The one dodging the ball is Jacob Murphy from East Lansing, Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether there will be a 5th major sport in North America is certainly something people ask. As sports fans we love the existence of the first 4 (the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) that if we like it enough, surely we can fit another. Not to mention on the business side, another sport on their level would be a massive source of revenue for many involved.

Now it’s unlikely a 5th major sport comes. Soccer and the MLS may have the best chance, though with the best players and teams in the world playing in Europe is a barrier.

Let me throw out the name of a sport: Dodgeball. Yes, Dodgeball. That goofy sports you played in gym class. Purely theoretically, here is why I believe if given the push, Dodgeball would have massive “upside” as a TV sport:

A simple goal

Dodgeball at its core is simple and explainable. Two teams are separated by a line throwing balls at each other, hits eliminating the player. Which continues until everyone on one side is eliminated.

A variety of skills and roles

A reason a professional Dodgeball league would be complex is the roles and talents needed to succeed.

Throwing/Hitting – The marquee skill. There would be intricacies in throwing however. Power, accuracy, curving the ball, banking shots if teams play against a wall, as in most leagues and games, underhand throws. Think of it like pitching in baseball, which has a variety of complexities and ways to succeed.

Dodging – The name of the game, reliant on both reaction speed and vision.

Passing – An obvious element in the game. Passing creates unpredictability, which would be important when trying to hit professional dodgers.

Rebounding/Possession – If played against walls, balls thrown against the wall can often roll back to the team that threw them. Thus the team thrown at securing and stopping these balls to gain possession of the balls, is a huge element.

One reasons sports like the NBA and NFL are interesting is different position and roles. This creates players with different combinations of skills and talents and teams with different combinations of strengths and weaknesses. The variety of skills above, taking physical, mental and skill talents would give the pro Dodgeball league and its players nuance and complexity.


With the above variety of skills, this creates opportunities for plays and formations. One can imagine offensive first coaches emphasizes their players more aggressively playing towards the middle of the court, increasing their chance of hitting the other team but also making them easier to hit. Likewise defense first teams may do the opposite by holding back.

Furthermore the act of many plays throwing balls at once, opens the opportunity for complex formations and timing making those throws, especially when aided by passing. This would be complimented by formations on the defensive end counteracting this.

Dodgeball would be a strategy and “chess match” friendly game.


The sport seemingly would favor a hierarchy of stars and players emerging as the stars on their teams, while teammates are “role players”. With visible faces and presumably little to no padding, the sport would have a great opportunity for face-up shots when filming, helping stardom opportunities.

“Clutch” and Comeback narratives

A close game or match (I assume a game, set, match format fits the most, with short-ish “games”) may come down to a few players on each side. This is an ideal “crunchtime” scenario, where a 1 or a few players, decide the fate of their team on their own, the hyper-focus on them. In basketball a player may figuratively win the game himself in the 4th quarter, in Dodgeball in an equivalent situation he’d literally do it – imagine the narrative and media lore behind those games. Furthermore, add this crunchtime scenario to the narrative of comebacks. A team with 1 or 2 players left, may single handily beat a team who has many more players left (say 5-10). This creates both heroes out of the comeback team’s players and huge chokers out of the other side’s. Both are what television sports and talking heads live on.


A sport made for statistics. Just on an individual level – Hits per game, hits per throw (efficiency!), average minutes before getting hit, rebounds, assists, crunchtime stats, +/-. Then all that for team stats as well. On a statistical level, due to the parallels of points per game and efficiency vs hits per game and efficiency, plus rebounds and assists, it’s a direct clone of basketball’s statistical opportunities.


Aside from the 1 on 1/”crunchtime” highlights, impressive hits (would head shots be the dunks of the sport?), passing plays, acrobat dodges, diving catches, etc. Plenty of opportunities for highlights.
Easy for people to play and learn

An important factor for a sport’s upside in culture, is how much it can be adopted recreationally. Dodgeball is one of the most easily played sports, with only ball(s) as the absolute necessity. It’s already popular to play as a result, but if a pro sport may take on anything in how often it’s played. It’s also a gender-neutral sport.

Dodgeball really has a lot in common with the major sports. It has a simple goal, but the potential for complex strategy and plays. If played at a world class level, it would take athletic tools, polished skills and vision/feel for the game, as well as containing different roles like hitting, dodging, passing, rebounding. It’d work on TV visually, as well as containing the necessary theatre drama for it and then some. Highlights and chances for stardom out of its players would be there, as would statistics. I’d say of the major sports, basketball would be its closest comparison, as many games would come down to individual duels in a team setting, as well as its obvious statistical similarities. Who wouldn’t want another basketball?

Written by jr.

March 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: