A brief history of DodgeBall and the National DodgeBall League
The game of dodgeball has roots dating back over 600 years ago. A variation of a game similar to modern dodgeball has been recorded in a number of African tribes. Other countries with an archaic form of dodgeball include Germany, China, and Korea.
Modern dodgeball came to existence in the United States after the First World War. The year was 1920. Two young men returning from the war, Walter Young and Philip Livingston, found work in a factory in Akron, Ohio that made parts for cars. On many occasions, the two would attempt to overcome boredom in the factory by throwing a foam ball to each other. When the two were reprimanded for this action, they continued to do so secretly. While Walter would be working on a machine, Philip would surprise him with a hard hit to the torso. Walter, in turn, would hit Philip when he was intently working. One day, instead of flying into a wall or falling to the floor, the foam ball landed on a conveyor belt that took it into a machine. When it came out, it was covered with a thin layer of rubber.
Walter and Philip were fired for this action, but the rubber ball that they had created inspired them to invent a new game. In a few weeks, with the help of many friends and relatives, the two had developed the first modern rules for dodgeball. The name of the game was intended to be ironic and came from an insult. During some of the first matches, many players would avoid a ball thrown in their direction rather than catch it. As the game progressed, a person who did this would be called a 'dodge'. An avid dodge would not be picked for a team.
The game was not an instant success. While enough interest was generated in Akron and surrounding communities to form a league, it did not spread much beyond Ohio. Instead, it was quickly picked up by the government and instituted as a part of physical education programs in public schools. For many decades, the game remained a necessity of the public school system.
In 1978, Dr. John H. DuBois, a scientist and professor at Vassar College, accidentally stumbled upon a new material called Antanite. Originally, he thought that the semi-soft metallic alloy would be able to be used by the military for weaponry or other devices. Unfortunately, the material was far too unstable for military use. Instead, Carl Young, a graduate assistant working under Dr. DuBois and grandson of Walter Young, found another use for Antanite. In its solid state, he modeled it into a ball and put the ball into play during a dodgeball game sponsored by his fraternity. The result was incredibly successful and reinvented the sport of dodgeball.
Antanite, when thrown under normal conditions, would keep its solid, semi-soft state and act just like a normal foam and rubber dodgeball. But when thrown using a variety of techniques, the ball would produce what is known as a "special throw". Sometimes, the ball would launch itself at supersonic speeds in the direction it was thrown. Other times, it would loop around in a dramatic manner. Other throws would cause the ball to disassemble itself before flying reassembled in the intended direction. To date, there are fifty known special throws. The unstable Antanite turned out to be a very safe material with no ill side-effects due to any level of exposure. The only side-effect at all was a subtle green-pigment to skin after games, similar to that of silver.
By 1985, dodgeball was gaining popularity and respect as a real sport, not just a children's game. Amateur dodgeball leagues had surfaced all across America and there was some discussion of a professional league. The game had also become a global phenomenon, and many Western countries also had leagues of some manner. In 1996, the International Olympic Committee recognized DodgeBall as a serious sport and the game was played for the first time internationally at the Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In the final game, the United States team faced off against the Dutch team. Surprisingly, the team from the Netherlands won the gold medal, and the young captain of the team, Willem Janssen, became an international superstar and the new face of DodgeBall.
After that first Olympics, a DodgeBall World Cup was established. Every four years, teams from around the world would compete to earn the title of World Champion. The first World Cup was held in 1998 in France. It was sparsely attended and moderately covered by the media. Even so, those involved considered it a success. The first World Champion team came from Australia.
Although the sport had its origins in the United States, the country was noticeably slow to embrace the sport entirely. While it was an amateur success, attempts to bring the sport to the professional level were ineffective. This could be directly attributed to the string of international losses the US team suffered during the first decade of the sport's international recognition, as well as foreigner Willem Janssen's association as DodgeBall's prodigy.
The American public changed its opinion on the game after the 2010 World Cup in Brazil. As had been the case at the previous World Cups, the United States team arrived as underdogs. Somehow, they began to defeat their competition. In a dramatic final game, the United States defeated the Dutch team, captained by Willem Janssen in his last international event, in only three matches. The game was symbolic in many ways. Not only had the US defeated the original champions of the sport, but Ken Dollings, the 20 year-old captain of the fledgling American team, arrived back in the United States as a hero and the new face of DodgeBall.
In the years between World Cups, the American DodgeBall Association (ADA) went about creating a professional league for DodgeBall in the United States. Within the four years between World Cups, thirty-two cities had signed on to sponsor professional teams for the newly created National DodgeBall League. The 2014 World Cup held in Kyoto, Japan was the most-hyped sports event in recent history, and American's were ready to rally their team to victory. Although the event itself was much less dramatic than previous ones had been, DodgeBall ratings were at their highest. The returning champions, still under the leadership of Ken Dollings, were more prepared than they had been four years ago, and they easily took the top honors of the World Cup.
The greatly advertised National DodgeBall League was to premier the following year. Amidst the success of the American team, many young athletes associated with DodgeBall were catapulted into the public eye even before the NDL held any games. By the time the 2015 season of the NDL began, 22 cities had built large DodgeBall arenas and many stars had been born.