Cartoonist Bill Watterson exquisitely detailed a distant variant of this game in his Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Perhaps as long as there has been a domicile, two or more rambunctious young people, a ball and someone nearby to act as a referee - which involves generally frowning upon the proceedings1, there has been Geeker Ball.
It is a sport that makes many demands on the arms, legs, and wallets of the participants. If you fail to break at least one lamp while playing, you are not playing hard enough.
The History of Geeker Ball
Although never popular on a widespread basis, Geeker Ball provided years of fun for the residents of a house located on the campus of the University of Illinois during the early 1990s, a game which was invented by three college roommates.
Variants of Geeker Ball have existed for centuries. Any time two or more young people were cajoled by their parents for 'playing ball in the house' and told to take it outside, they were playing a variant of Geeker Ball. The name may be different, but the basic premise is still the same. One Field Researcher reported playing a 'tamer version' of this game with his son using a football. His wife, taking the role of referee, often sent them to the penalty bench, which she called 'the naughty corner.'
The Editor of this article once played a variant of Geeker Ball 25 years ago with his cousin David, in Muncie, Indiana, USA, when they were about five years old. The resident referees2 insisted that there be no rough-housing so in this variant a rule was added: slow-motion. All physical activity had to be performed slowly. Despite this they still broke a lamp.
Preparations Before Play
The first step in starting your own Geeker Ball League is to find a playing field, which will involve purchasing or borrowing a big house. The house should be old (at least pre-1950s construction) and should be sturdy enough to withstand major attack from the inside.
The game must take place in a large room with open doorways in two directions, and a couch on a wall opposite one of the doorways3. A floor lamp must stand in a corner of the room, which should be easily broken when struck. For this reason, a cheap lamp is recommended, such as a simple halogen torchiere4. Finally, hardwood floors are recommended, as they encourage the players to use the whole field when throwing the ball5.
The Geeker Ball
No game of Geeker Ball would be complete without the ball. A geeker ball is a round plastic ball, about one foot in diameter, found in most toy stores. For best results, it should be easy to throw fast and should bounce well, but should be quite soft so that there is no danger of permanently injuring anyone who is hit by it.
It is worth noting that, any object that could feasibly be construed as a ball may be effective. Substitutions can include a regulation basketball, a nerfball, a head of lettuce, or even a hard Styrofoam wig head like those found in beauty salons. The use of substitute balls should be chosen with care, and players should understand that geeker ball substitutions can readily alter or even hamper play. For example, heads of lettuce would need to be replaced periodically and Styrofoam wig heads do not bounce well.
How To Play
Play begins with the ball on the floor in the middle of the room. Each player defends a 'goal,' with one player guarding each open doorway, and a third guarding the couch.
A prearranged sound should be chosen to indicate the game has started, such as the front door of the house closing as the roommate no one likes leaves for the day. The first player to reach the ball may take the first shot, unless the ball is deflated in the struggle to get the ball. Should this occur, the players must either purchase a new ball, or contact a real estate agent in order to put the house up for sale.
The players guarding the doorways must prevent the ball from leaving the room. The player guarding the couch must prevent the ball from touching the couch. Since the couch is much tougher to defend, players should switch positions after every game, unless the third player is not very popular with the other two players.
How To Score
The scoring system for Geeker Ball is simple.
Each time you fail to guard your goal, you are given a point. When you reach ten points, you are out of the game. Once two players have been eliminated, the third is usually declared the winner.
If you have a choice, don't pick the couch.