Journal of Sport and Exercise Studies/Business, Politics and Sport 2011/Dodgeball: A legitimate sport?

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Thomas Purcell, 2011
Original essay

Dodgeball court. Author Pang-hung.liu.

'A group of 10 mates have found the greatest loophole in Australian sport and registered themselves as the Australian Dodgeball Association, thereby selecting themselves into the national team which competed in the world dodgeball championships this year.'[1].

Dodgeball is game in which players on each side try to hit each other with balls while trying to avoid the ball themselves. Although Dodgeball has a specific set of rules and regulations there are many variations of the game, but generally the main objective of each team is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with thrown balls, catching a ball thrown ball by a member of the opposing team, or forcing them to move outside the court boundaries when a ball is thrown at them.

When most people think of dodgeball they think of a fun local game to play with mates in the backyard or at school in gym classes. However, internationally this sport is rapidly growing having both amateur and professional leagues featuring the best dodgeball players in the world. Unlike most other sports leagues, the NDL holds its entire regular season in one day during its annual Dodgeball World Championship & Convention held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each teams plays three regular season five minute matches.

This essay will examine the politics involved in how 10 Australians found themselves representing our country and the opportunity for big business this sport could potentially have. It will also explore the notion of the loopholes involved in unusual sports and if anyone can get together and register themselves for a sport, quite unknown in Australia and claim to represent our country.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Dodgeball Animation.Author Bearas

With the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story being one of my all time favourite movies about a group of misfits who enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their treasured local gym from the attack of a corporate health fitness chain.

This has always been my go to movie and was very intrigued when I discovered Australia had entered in this year’s, Dodgeball World Championships held in Las Vegas. Nine mates selected themselves to represent Australia, the dream that every Australian has had at one point, to pull on the green and gold and represent this proud sporting nation. After researching this topic further it was revealed that this subject would be relevant and interesting to the business and politics involved in sport. Dodgeball is a constantly evolving sport and has potential to become large business in the future. The game has in the past been typically played in the United States among children 6-12 in elementary school. However, this sport has grown in many countries both nationally and internationally with national championships and world champions being held annually. This article will discuss the potential for big business this sport could have, from a local level all the way to an international level. At the same time looking at the issues in dodgeball at this present time such as lack of funding, management and organisation holding it back from achieving the goals needed to be recognised as legitimate sport.

This piece will show both intra-state comparisons and the contrast between different countries and how dodgeball is managed and perceived in those countries, while at the same time hoping to find out plans and devices put in place by organisations such as the Australian Dodgeball Association ADA) and the National Dodgeball League (NDL) to ensure the sport is recognised on a local, state, and national level in countries new to dodgeball. As dodgeball grows throughout the world, pick-up groups are spontaneously forming at the grass roots level via local gyms, community centres, and schools. Some are for competition, some are for fun. This article will explore the money being made by professional dodgeball players, or if they are making any money at all. It will also explore the notion on whether or not, now or in the near future dodgeball will need a players association, individual management or even contracts for the best players if trading and big money ever comes into this sport.

Brief history of dodgeball[edit | edit source]

The history of dodgeball goes back quite a ways. Any type of games that involves a ball and the players doing what they can to avoid being hit by the ball or throwing the ball at another person is technically classified as dodgeball. Throughout the history of dodgeball this game has evolved; today this is a team sport that is often played in school. However, internationally this sport has taken off with amateur and professional leagues in many different countries. This game is often played on a field, but when played at schools (as it traditionally has for many years) it is played in the gym during P.E classes. The history of dodgeball in the United States more than any other country is quite long, but today this sport is becoming popular in other areas of the world. Although in the beginning there were not many rules to dictate how this game was played, nowadays there are some universal rules that players have to follow.

Before the opening rush at the NDL. Author Mockenoff

International Dodgeball Federation and politics[edit | edit source]

The International Dodge Ball Federation(IDBF) was founded by Rusty Walker of Gulfport, MS in 1996 and had a web presence in 1997. The Federation began as a way to make the children Rusty played dodge ball with feel as though the game was a real sport instead of a schoolyard pastime.

Within weeks of putting up the website, emails from around the world began arriving daily asking where to play and expressing interest in becoming members of the IDBF. Within months the IDBF became a 'real' organization and began sanctioning tournament play around the world.

"In 2003, the IDBF incorporated and hired a full time executive director tasked with league development. The IDBF has dodge ball federations in several countries and state organizations in about a third of all US states. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the home of the IDBF, and both organization and expansion efforts were damaged; however, currently, the IDBF is well on its way of having organizations in all 50 states by the end of 2013 and a projected 300,000 sanctioned players by the end of 2012, if not sooner."

Potential for big business[edit | edit source]

Sport itself is big business. With dodgeball gaining momentum, the opportunity to make money and gain big sponsorship is fast approaching. In America, dodgeball it seems is heading down the same path as Lacrosse; a pro lacrosse player in the National Lacrosse League averages $14,000 US per year. "Some may earn more due to star status or endorsements, but most players hold down "day" jobs and play pro lacrosse for the love of the game. No one gets rich playing lacrosse...yet."

At this present time pro dodgeball players do not earn a salary but rather receive money only from winning matches. It is stated however, in recent player contracts that once the Professional aspect of the NDL receives revenue, the players will get their fair share. In the mean time, the satisfaction of playing amongst the ranks of fellow Dodgeball enthusiasts and the "elite" if you wish to call it that as well as helping an organization grow is compensation enough for the players.

Most national games in the United States have prize money of around $4000 to $6000. During the World Championship however, players often play for much larger sums payed for by major sponsors this sport has been attracting. If this sort of sponsorship keeps up or even increases in the future, dodgeball will become more widely recognised and thus seen as a legitimate sport.

National Dodgeball league and World championships[edit | edit source]

NDL Logo. Author National Dodgeball League

The National Dodgeball League is headed by Commissioner Edward Prentiss out of Hopkins, MN it has 23 professional teams and was founded in 2004; these teams are divided into the national and the American Dodgeball Conferences. As well as professional dodgeball, the NDL also hosts the Amateur Dodgeball World Championships (DWC) that happens every year in Las Vegas, Nevada. The DWC draws dodgeball players from across the globe to compete in a tournament to determine the best amateur dodgeball team in the world. Unlike most other sports leagues, the NDL holds its entire regular season in one day during its annual Dodgeball World Championship. The NDL is not big enough yet to have a players association but rather they have a leadership council. One player from each of the 6 regions that dodgeball is most popular are selected to be in the Leadership Council every year. The players currently in the leadership council this year are:

Rob Immel- New York

Colin Governski- San Diego

Brett Batky- Virginia

Glen Spejcher- Chicago

Joe Luna- Texas

Kevin Pack- Oregon

Cory Cooper- Memphis

Local, State, National and International[edit | edit source]

Hurling a Dodgeball. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eduardo Zaragoza

When most people think of dodgeball they think of a fun past time to play with mates at school. This has traditionally been all dodgeball was in a local perspective. In most countries associated with dodgeball such as America, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia grass roots dodgeball is something they all have in common in a managed and organised fun way.

With popularity at a local level taking off organisations such as the International Dodge Ball Federation (IDBF), Australian Dodgeball Association (ADA) and the National Dodgeball League (NDL) have developed dodgeball in such a way that it is now being recognised around the world. Dodgeball in America is most prominent at a state level with 18 professional teams and many more states completing in the amateur league held around the same time as the professional association. In countries like Australia and Canada, there are no recognised state teams (yet) but rather just one national team along with many local teams played in schools and organised dodgeball tournaments.

The Natioanl Dodgeball League (NDL) is currently the only professional dodgeball league in the United States. Although it consists almost entirely in America, the International Dodgeball Federation has plans to expand and hold National Leagues in different countries. The NDL Amateur Association holds an amateur dodgeball season year round via the NDL Championship Tour. The amateur dodgeball season is composed of nationwide tournaments, and culminates with the Dodgeball World Championship (DWC). This transformation from merely a fun past time played with mates and at school, to having National and World Championships held in Las Vegas, shows that through the power of business and politics this has evolved into a legitimate sport.

Australian dodgeball team: The Emus[edit | edit source]

The Emus are Australia's first national dodgeball team and selected themselves to compete in the world championships in Las Vegas which was held in August. After learning that Australia had no national dodgeball association, Sigsworth and his mates registered one. "Like every single Aussie we have dreamed of the chance to ... represent Australia.

But for most in their mid-30s, you have to face the fact making it in traditional ways is much harder. We found the loophole in Australian sport." Australian Dodgeball Association (ADA) president Burt Sigsworth, aka Mr Dodgeball, said. These 10 ‘average’ Australians have gained huge support from the nation having over 2000 fans on facebook and appearing on various morning shows and articles telling of their unlikely story.

In Popular Culture[edit | edit source]

The 2004 movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is generally credited with reviving interest in the sport, especially among young adults, despite referencing the sport as being about "violence, exclusion and degradation". Although dodgeball was already fairly well established in the United States, after the movie came out, the sport started to gain momentum in different countries and also took off at a grass roots level. "Interest has just exploded," said Rusty Walker, president of the International Dodge Ball Federation.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Dodgeball is a constantly changing and evolving sport. Its recent explosion of interest can be put down to the increase in sponsership, business and organisations like the International Dodge Ball Federation (IDBF), Australian Dodgeball Association (ADA) and the National Dodgeball League (NDL). In order for this relatively new sport to be more widely recognised on a local, state, national and international level these organisations must continue to promote dodgeball, while also providing access to fun and sociable grass roots dodgeball in towns not to familiar with this new sport.

This article will discussed the potential for big business this sport could have, at the same time looking at the issues in dodgeball at this present time such as lack of funding, management and major sponsorship holding it back from achieving the goals needed to be recognised as legitimate sport. This piece showed both intra-state comparisons and the contrast between different countries and how dodgeball is managed and perceived in those countries. It also disscused plans that these dodgeball organisations have to help advance this sport in the future such as, once the Professional aspect of the NDL receives revenue, the players will get their fair share of the profits, as stated in professional players contracts.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 2011 the-other-side/australias-first-national-dodgeball-team-select-themselves-for-world-championships, viewed on the 30th of October

External links[edit | edit source]

1. 2010,, the international dodgeball federation, viewed 28th of October

2. 2010, National Amateur Dodgeball Association, viewed 28th of October

3. 2011,, NDL DODGEBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, viewed 29th of October

4. 2008,

5. 2010,, Answer, viewed on the 26th of October.

6. 2009,, All Grown Up, Dodgeball Hurtles Toward a Higher Popularity, viewed 30th of October

7. 2011, the-other-side/australias-first-national-dodgeball-team-select-themselves-for-world-championships, viewed on the 30th of October.

8. 2004,, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, viewed on the 30th of October

9. 2011,, aussie-dodgeball-boys-are-back/ viewed on the 28th of October