Blast from the past
I loved this book from the first chapter titled "Who Goes First" detailing the various ways in which to figure out who goes first in a games. Reading about hand over hand and one potato, two potato, three potato, four made me nostalgic for the days of my youth when my friends and I would use the same methods to determine our order.
From there the book goes on to describe 40 lawn games from all over the world ranging from popular favorites like flag football and kick-the-can to lesser known games like double ball and kubb. Each game is described in detail including the rules, alternate names, rule variations, history, personal anecdotes from the authors and other bits of interesting trivia.
Some of the games like lacrosse and Cherokee marbles originated hundreds if not a thousand years ago among North American Indians. They involve engaging strategies, a certain amount of skill and remain exciting and interesting enough to still be played in modern times.
Many of the games are familiar from childhood like Red Light, Green Light, Follow the Leader, and Red Rover. Even these games are hundreds of years old, originally played in Victorian England or in variations in other countries throughout the world. They instantly recall childhood and an innocence that seems very distant to the modern video games loaded with gore and violence. The importance of preserving these types of lawn games and outdoor activities in general is paramount as the various forms of distraction seem to multiply and playing outside takes a backseat to indoor activities.
Just as cool as the nostalgic games familiar to children everywhere are the lesser known games like the ancient Swedish game of kubb and the Finnish game of kyykka. The strategies and entertainment value of these games cannot be downplayed when they have been around for over a thousand years! Many of these games emerged with the development of modern man and have changed little since ancient times.
Double ball is an ancient North American Indian game blending lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, and ladder toss. The games were sometimes played to settle disputes and could last days on end. Another obscure yet engaging game is sepak takraw from Southeast Asia. Literally translated as kick ball, it resembles team hacky sack with a lowered volley ball net.
A book with a purpose
Paul Tukey and Victoria Rowell have approached this book with a spirit that is infectious and it seems to me that the purpose of the book is to engage and inspire both parents and children to get outside and play on the lawn. As a parent and lawn guy, that is a message I can get behind.
Releasing the book during the 40th anniversary of the video game is an clever juxtaposition and Tag, Toss, & Run quickly proves that centuries of outdoor play are infinitely more engaging than the invention of Pong. These childhood games of skill, strategy and chance are among our first experiences with peers, challenges, conflict, team work, and other valuable life skills. They teach us the joy of winning, the grace in losing, and the deep rooted pleasure in gathering with others on a grassy area to playfully test each other with silly contests, it's pretty primal stuff. As a civilization we have been playing these games for thousands of years and as the video game turns 40 we have never been more at risk of losing the culture of lawn games and outdoor play.
People of a certain age have shared memories of hours and hours of outdoor, largely unsupervised, play time in neighborhoods, forests, parks, and alleys throughout North America. Our children may not get the free range that we did, and they will likely play more video games than we ever did, but it's up to us to make sure the tradition of outdoor play continues. Tag, Toss & Play is the ideal outdoor game reference and a cure for boredom when it's time to get outside and play.