A couple of groups of college kids had attempted, set and broke each other's world records for the longest marathon game of four square. I first heard about a college in Newfoundland, then a group in Ohio, then another, and another.
Each group was composed of a small group of players and a single court. They played long and hard to earn their records and probably felt great about them as they were set. It's a pretty accessible record attempt no matter how you look at it. It's not like you have to grow your fingernails for 25 years or learn how to eat airplanes. You just need endurance and stamina and a love of the game.
This is why I was surprised to get a call from the Guinness Book of World Records when they needed to ask me about the spirit of the game. They mentioned that a group out there had attempted to set a marathon four square game record in which there was one court and 50 people involved.
We talked a little bit about how the Four Square World Championships work in their final rounds, and specifically they wanted to know how many competitors there were at this time of the competition. When determining the title for "world champion" we generally have 8 to 10 players involved in the match. I think this is a great number of people because nearly half of the competitors are actively playing while the other half have about a minute to rest before their turn comes up again. I also believe this is a great number to have both a consistent presence by any one player on the court yet still change up the combination of players so that the strengths and weaknesses represented on the court are different each time. All in all, we have a great model for naming a champion and I believe that Guinness learned a lot from us.
In my opinion, I think that getting fifty people together to hold a playground game marathon would be tons of fun and everyone would enjoy it. But I don't believe that it shows a real marathon sporting event spirit. Sure, you could keep a game going forever if you have enough people to cycle in but it doesn't necessarily demonstrate the endurance and stamina of a group of game players. If I were in charge of judging world records for four square then I would give more credit to the groups that had a high percent of its players moving throughout the whole event.
The good thing is that I don't judge records. It is very gratifying to get lifeline call from Guinness to help judge these things and they did mention that our group seems to be well known for aggregating the rules of this game into a concise resource. We've become experts on this fun childhood playground game - and that feels great.
For our next trick? How about the 2020 Olympics?