The Hottest And Newest Playground Game ‘Gaga Ball’ Is Coming To One Rockford Elementary School
If you don't know what Gaga Ball is don't worry, I literally just found out what it was 45 minutes ago.
Apparently, it's one of those things that every 12-year-old knows about that just hasn't made it to the adult world.
When I was trying to find some images for this blog, typing "gaga ball" into the search bar on Getty Images only supplied pictures like this:
Just a bunch of images of Lady Gaga with with an actual ball or performing at her "Monster's Ball" concert.
I only heard of it because I watched a Tiktok of a guy that works as a playground monitor and was describing a fight he had to break up on the "Gaga Ball" court.
I love games and also hate not knowing things so I did a little bit of an internet dive on Gaga Ball.
First up, what is it and how do you play Gaga?
It looks like Gaga has become this generations dodge ball. Dodge ball was an awesome game for some and a traumatic experience for others. Gaga takes a lot of the dodge ball principles and packages it in a safer, more engaging game.
This group of ROTC members does a good job explaining it.
You stand in an octagon and try to hit each other with a ball below the knee. If you get hit below the knee with the ball, you're out. If the ball gets caught, you're out. You can only hit the ball, no throwing and catching, and once you hit it once you can't hit it again until someone else touches it or it hits the wall. The last one standing wins.
Pretty simple. Here's another video of some kids playing it.
Origins Of Gaga:
I found that the history of Gaga is at best murky. There seems to be an agreement that it was invented in Israel about 60 years ago and was introduced to kids through summer camps around the world. Word of mouth spread and eventually it was happening in neighborhoods and school playgrounds.
The Wikipedia entry on Gaga includes one story from Tablet magazine that claims to have found the inventor of Gaga, a summer camp counselor named Steve Steinberg.
In the second of the two articles, titled "Is the Mystery of Ga-Ga, Everyone's Favorite Summer-Camp Game, Finally Solved?" Silver interviewed a 61-year-old native of Baltimore, Maryland, Steve Steinberg, who claimed to have invented gaga in 1975 as a teenage camp counselor to six-year-old boys at Camp Milldale, a Jewish Community Center camp in the Baltimore area. "[Steinberg] says he started the game for the same reason it’s still played today at countless summer camps," Silver wrote, "to keep campers busy on rainy days." Contrary to the theory that the game's name derives from the Hebrew word meaning "touch-touch," Steinberg explained to Silver that during a moment of frustration with his campers, he'd told them that they "all look like a bunch of babies," and that the children responded by chanting "goo-goo, ga-ga."
Wherever it came from, it looks like a lot of fun. Which leads me to my (and possibly your) next question:
Where Can I Play Gaga In Rockford?
Well, you can theoretically play it anywhere as long as you have 6-8 folding tables you can fashion into a ring. But as far as I can tell, there aren't any public Gaga courts anywhere in the Rockford area... yet.
A Gaga court is scheduled to be installed at Spring Creek Elementary later this year thanks to a $750 grant from the First Free Church in Rockford. The grant is part of the Jeremiah Fund that provides no-strings attached $750 grants.
A grant can go to any 501c3 nonprofit organization that is either Christian in scope, or morally positive and spiritually neutral. The organization must serve the greater Rockford community and effect positive change on people’s lives. The applicant must be a member of First Free Rockford who volunteers more than 20 hours a year to the organization.
One of my favorite quotes about Gaga explains why it's so popular with kids. With traditional sports, they have a mold that they have to mimic, but with Gaga they get to explore the sport themselves, come up with their own strategy, and when their parents ask what they're doing, THEY get to explain it to the old people.
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