How did you come up with this!?
By MojoKickball Creator Eric Heiberg
That's the number one thing I hear. So now I'm gonna write it down and then I can just refer people to the website to look at it. But let's be honest: I'm probably going to run through the whole Mojo Kickball spiel with them as well. I can't help it. I love this game.
Like many Americans, my work isn't particularly conducive to exercise and, like many Americans, I hate exercise. I hate the idea of having to do something. I hate the notion of knowing exactly how far I have to go. I wanted to get more exercise, but was largely reluctant to pursue the normal routes (jogging, going to the gym, etc). There was always the possibility of getting involved in sports, but that posed problems of its own.
To start, I'm terrible at sports. I don't have a lick of athletic ability. When I run, it looks like someone trying to break-dance with their hair on fire. Co-rec sports and entry-level leagues seemed appealing, but they usually had problems that I could not seem to avoid:
There's almost always some team that is several levels above everyone else who dominates the lower league when they should really be playing in a more advanced league.
Unless you put the team together yourself, you're probably going to be on a team with a very aggressive player who does not take failure as an option, and is undoubtedly lamenting why he wasn't placed on the team above.
Most of the entry-level leagues are co-rec, which is nice, but usually meant that they were short on women and long on athletically-deficient folks like me.
I suck at athletic stuff. Did I mention that? Most of the time, in traditional sports my best strategy is to just pass the ball to someone else.
I remembered the days of recess, when I just went out to play. it didn't really feel like exercise, because I was having too much fun. I started thinking about what a fun game would be like - one where we could all play as humans, together. Kickball came to mind.
At the time I was considering this, Kickball had not yet made a resurgence in popularity. Also, I didn't want to play kickball ironically. I wanted fun. I wanted exercise. I didn't want to participate in a sport that was really just an excuse to drink from a flask on the sidelines. I started working out the details of a multi-ball kickball game—one where you would have to run around a lot.
Not surprisingly, even adding one more ball into a regular kickball game is a rabbit-hole. By the time I fleshed out all the initial rules, the further the game began to look like traditional kickball. It became something else entirely.
There was a lot of writing and re-writing—some thinking, some deleting, and then more re-writing. I kept thinking of every aspect of the game that I could. Above all else, I really tried to keep my main focus and priorities intact:
Extremely inclusive of everyone
In the end, all of these got boiled down into one, singular idea:
Inclusion with Contribution
Somewhat accidentally, I had made a game where any player could have several strategies at their disposal, at any moment in the game. The game changes from second to second. There is no time to plan, lament or do anything but just run around and laugh at how terrible you are at it. Finally, for myself, I could exceed my normal contribution of simply "passing the ball to someone else."
That meant a lot to me, but the thing that really burst my heart with rainbows and unicorns and fluffy bunnies was getting to see how this meant so much to so many other people as well. People come to me and tell me that they hate team sports. They hate them, but they love Mojo. Mojo is about the fun in losing. It's about the fun in sacrifice. It's about letting "Fun of Mastery" take a backseat to "Fun of Agency."
"Being inclusive" wasn't as hard as I thought, either. There were so many roles and ways to play the game that there was no need to add "handicaps" to the game to accommodate for weaker players. Not everyone is equal in ability of course, but the playing field is naturally leveled out a lot more than in other sports. In retrospect, it seems most sports were developed by the jocks, for the jocks. So naturally, there are a lot of aspects to most sports that simply favor one or two types of straight-up athletic ability - like lifting a heavy rock, or running to the fence faster, or punching something super hard. What I found out is that it's a lot easier than one would think to make a sport that draws favor from a wider base of skills. Heck, I did it on accident.
And because there is such a wide base of skills that are beneficial to MojoKickball, you never really know who's gonna be the bad-ass on your team. And no single person has nearly enough influence to swing a game. But as a collective, people can completely dominate another team, no matter how strong or fast the other team is. Well, ok. Maybe I exaggerate. I suppose if you were playing against the Superfriends, yes, you would probably lose. There, I said it.
So there it is: MojoKickball. It's been a journey and an amazing life lesson I would never have had the opportunity to be a part of, if it hadn't been for the amazing, not-so-secret cache of humans who were always ready and able to play it if we just bothered to look.
I envy them. I envy us.
I'm not looking to make money off of it. I just want you to play it and have fun… and maybe for it to revolutionize the planet if that's not too much to ask. We'll see.
Love always, and thank you for playing. Mojo on!