What if the ball is unplayable?

  • Posted on: 27 May 2015
  • By: sean

Dear Sean,

My students are organizing a charity four squares tournament at our school for the local food pantry, and we want to make sure we've got all the rules right. I'm a former Ragin' Narwhal and think I have most of them down pat, but we came up with one question. If someone legally hits the ball into your square, but the ball immediately starts to roll OR the ball stops cold (i.e. it's unable to play off), who is out? The person who hit the unplayable ball, or the person whose square it is? Thanks, and see you next February! ~Ms. Cusack, May 27, 2015.

Hi Ms. Cusack, good to hear from you!

We have to observe the most fundamental pillar of four square: If you can't hit the ball back then you are out.

The laws of physics make things like rolls and dead stops pretty hard to do. The complex forces your kids would have to apply to a ball to make those things happen would write new chapters in college textbooks. What they are really saying is they are concerned that some shots are too hard to return and they want exceptions made to accommodate their inability. You could do that and your fundraiser would still be OK - but it does not push them to grow as athletes or human beings.

I heard that the NFL moved back the extra point kick distance this year because the freaks they breed for pro football basically always scored on every kick - they needed to increase the difficulty because player performance had improved to the point that the old distance was no longer a challenge. But if some kid develops a new four square technique that does those things with enough consistency so that it changes the nature of the game then we can rework the rules at that time. Your kids have a lot of Wheaties to eat before that day comes around.

Rage on, Narwhal.

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