Dodgeball - It's more than just a movie

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Deemed too violent to be played in school anymore, the sport of dodgeball seemed ready to disappear.

But with adult leagues starting across the country, dodgeball has regained its popularity in as little time as players have to dive out of the way from the oncoming red rubber ball of the former childhood favorite.

The sport's acceptance in mainstream society reaches a pinnacle on Friday when "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," opens, starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as rival gym owners entered in a national tournament.

Josh Tomlin, co-founder of the Jackson Underground Dodgeball League, said he first heard rumors about the movie a year ago but didn't place much hope on the movie coming to theaters.

Now that he has seen the previews, Tomlin expects some funny moments but a mediocre movie.

"Stiller is the same character that he has been in every movie he's done," Tomlin said. "And Vaughn appears to be walking through it."

Tomlin critiqued the movie as a cross between "BASEketball" and "There's Something About Mary," which he believes will lead to box-office success.

"But it will be popular with the 16-to-24 crowd who think 'American Pie' and 'Van Wilder' are great cinema," Tomlin said.

Despite what he expects from the movie, Tomlin thinks "Dodgeball" will help promote the sport with children and adults who are already starting to rediscover the childhood game.

Dodgeball leagues now exist in major cities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland.

A National Amateur Dodgeball Association stages indoor nationals and outdoor national championships, the latter of which is scheduled this year for July 23 through 24 in Schaumburg, Ill.

The game is also starting to become a popular club sport at universities. Tomlin said members of the JUDL have begun the process to start a club at Southeast Missouri State University in the fall.

Tomlin is not sure what sparked the growth in the sport but said those who play dodgeball have found a sport that teaches teamwork.

"It is athletic," he said. "You get such a good workout. Plus, it is fun to play and it is fun to do something different."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: