"How did you come up with this insane thing?"
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.
Anyway, like many Americans I work at a job that 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. Nevertheless, I decided that wanted to get some exercise in some fashion, but was largely reluctant to pursue the normal routes – jogging, exercise, going to the gym, etc etc. There was always the possibility of getting involved in a sport of some sort, but that posed difficulties of it's own.
First off, I'm terrible at sports; let's just get that out of the way. 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 get around:
There's almost always some team that is several levels above everyone else, dominating the lower league when they really should be playing in a more advanced league.
Unless you put the team together yourself, you were 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 spazzes like me.
I suck at athletic stuff. Did I mention that? Most of the time, in traditional sports my best strategy is usually 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. So 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. So 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 was getting close to fleshing out all the initial rules, the further and further away the game began to look like its Kickball roots. It was simply something else entirely.
There was a lot of writing and re-writing. Some thinking, some deleting, and then more re-writing as I kept thinking of every aspect of the game that I could. On top of all this, 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, and at any moment in the game. The game changes from second to second. There is no time to plan or lament or do anything but just run around and laugh at how terrible you are at it. Finally, 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 many other people this means a lot to as well. People come to me and tell me that they hate team sports. They hate them, but they love Mojo. Mojo is about losing. It's about sacrifice. It's about letting "Fun of Mastery" take a backseat to "Fun of Agency". It's about being each other's heroes. It's about being each other's heroes because there simply isn't anyone else to do it.
"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 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 jocks, for 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 maybe urinating while standing up. I don't know. But it's not as impossible as 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 Mojo Kickball (including using your brain), 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. Mojo Kickball. 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!