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Inside Events: USA Dodgeball

24 Jul, 2019

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Jake Mason, President

usadodgeball.com

USA Dodgeball is the national governing body for the sport of dodgeball in the United States and as such, has the mission of promoting and developing the sport of dodgeball across the country. USA Dodgeball believes in the numerous benefits of dodgeball and it is the organization’s mission to provide the communities with a fun and safe environment which exemplifies a spirit of fair play and sportsmanship.

The organization aims to foster friendly competition at various levels of play, while encouraging both teamwork and camaraderie. USA Dodgeball strives to be an all-inclusive organization which reaches players across a broad spectrum and has the goal of uniting the nation under a governing body that gives a voice to many organizations who want to develop and promote the sport of dodgeball. USA Dodgeball is headquartered in West Hollywood, California, and has member organizationsin cities across the country.

Sports Destination Management: Dodgeball is a sport a lot of people remember from the playground. How do people get into it at the competitive level?

Jake Mason: Most often, people get involved through adult rec sports leagues. They’re looking for something fun to do, and dodgeball is active and social. They remember the basic rules from when they were in school, so it’s easy for them to play. Then they catch the bug and eventually, they wind up playing at the higher levels.

SDM: Do you find that people come from any particular sports background and have a particular skillset that serves them in dodgeball?

Mason: No, not really. Dodgeball is a truly diverse sport and it takes a number of different skills. People think the sport is all about picking up the ball and throwing it and running around and going crazy – but it’s not. Particularly on the elite level, there’s a lot of strategy involved. For example, there are ex-baseball players who can throw really hard but despite that, they may not necessarily be good in dodgeball. I guess if I had to choose one sport that is a good crossover, it would be lacrosse because you have to use speed, accuracy, ball handling and strategy.

SDM: It’s a co-ed sport, too.

Mason: Yes – we’re one of the truly co-ed sports. On the world stage, there are men’s and women’s teams and in 2020 at the World Championships, we’re hoping to get a mixed division in.

SDM: Unlike a lot of sports, there’s really only been one movie about dodgeball – and it was a comedy with a pretty strong raunch factor. Do you think it helped or hindered the sport’s image?

Mason: Oh, it hindered it. Everyone loves a silly movie, but dodgeball is a legitimate sport. And the movie was playing on the brutality for laughs so of course, you had people thinking the sport is all about people getting hit in the head or the face or below the belt and being knocked out. In reality, you can get in trouble at the elite level for what’s called ‘headhunting.’ On the world stage, head shots are allowed but we are also using a foam ball. The movie made it look like it was always this excessive, brutal combat.

SDM: And it is a serious sport; you’re doing a combine in Dallas this weekend.

Mason: Yes, the combine will determine the final men’s and women’s Team USA roster to represent the United States at the 2019 Dodgeball World Championships in hopes of defending their Women’s Gold and Men’s Silver medal standings from last year’s championships in Los Angeles. This year’s World Championships will be held in Cancun.

SDM: How many people are coming to the combine?

Mason: More than 80.

SDM: What led you to you choose Dallas?

Mason: This is actually our second year there. It’s central for everyone; most of our top players are located on the west coast.

SDM: What are you looking for when you’re looking for a location for a competitive event? Are there actual dodgeball facilities?

Mason: We generally use basketball courts. At the elite level, the dodgeball court is 25 feet x 50 feet; on the international level, it’s 30 feet x 60 feet – the same dimensions as a volleyball court. We usually use netting or pipe and drape around the courts; we really love facilities with drop-down dividers.

SDM: How many people will come in all?

Mason: It depends on the event – there can be over 600 players attending, with spectators and family members. One of our biggest is the Sin City Dodgeball Tournament in Las Vegas. It’s a great party – maybe not one of the most serious tournaments but a lot of fun, and many people will bring friends and family.

SDM: What else are you looking for in a city?

Mason: We want a place we can feel safe. It’s an all-inclusive group and it’s very diverse. And since nobody is getting paid for this and people are using their own paid time off to come and play, we want a place that can be a vacation for them as well.

Note: Cities interested in hosting events can use this form on the USA Dodgeball website.

SDM: Is the sport growing across the country or is it regionalized?

Mason: Participation is growing because there are a lot of opportunities to play recreationally and that can lead people into competitive play. We now have a National Collegiate Dodgeball Association as well. There are more dodgeball leagues on the west coast, but others are picking up.

SDM: Is there junior play – outside of the playground, that is?

Mason: We don’t have an official junior league – but that is our next initiative.

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