Tag, you’re still it 40 years later


It was one of the fluffier stories featured on an episode of SportsCenter, there’s no denying that. If you happened to tune in to ESPN on Sunday in search of a sports fix like I was, you probably saw the five-minute segment about a group of friends that play a month-long game of tag every year. The peculiar part of the story — which must have also must have been classified as the intrigue for SportsCenter producers — is that these ten men have been playing for the last 23 years and have no intentions of calling off their annual return to adolescence.

The group started playing tag between classes during high school and decided to continue fostering the tradition during their adult years as a means to keep in touch. In some respects, it seems like this group of Seattle man-children have taken the schoolyard pastime far beyond the limits of reasonable enjoyment. The group signed a “Tag Participation Agreement”, for instance, that was drafted by a lawyer in the group and legally enforces the “no tag backs” rule among others. However, after watching the entire segment there was no doubt that watching all of the participants scurry around (and sometimes many miles away) to avoid being “it” during the final few days would have made for some great reality television. So that got me thinking; what would be the adult equivalent of some other elementary school favorites?

It turns out that tag might only be the tip of the iceberg.

Sharks and Minnows – Jerks and Cubicles

The classic is played in an enclosed space like a gym as “minnows” attempt to cross from one side of the playing area to the other without being tagged by “sharks” lurking between before the end line. Though the juvenile rendition takes place over the course of a few minutes, the adult version would most likely take much longer as participants would play in an office or classroom over the course of a day. Choose a landmark like the main door or the break room and see who can last the longest moving between there and their work space without being nailed. The sharks should be the two or three least liked people in the office/class so that it feels natural to curse them out after you get tagged.

Wood Chips – Sidewalk

This game has a million different names. I’m talking about the one where someone closes their eyes and walks around a playground trying to tag people or call out “wood chips”  to call out someone who has jumped from the playground equipment to the ground. There would be little translation needed to modify the experience for a more mature audience. Put the seeker on a sidewalk and tell all other players that they must stay on the sidewalk is the equivalent of wood chips and they must otherwise stay in the street at all times. Best if played in an urban area or a busy local street. Playing on streets with shoulder or bike lanes should be avoided, but in cases where such roads are necessary the players who decide to utilize no risk lanes should be branded as cowards.

Hide and Go Seek – Who’s the Best Thief?

This one probably needs no explanation, but here’s a synopsis for those that are owed a new childhood.  The adult version entails picking a location; a friend’s house is preferable, but public locations are accepted. The host or designed seeker must monitor and try to bust the other participants as they attempt to make off with objects from the house or store.  Any item successfully nicked from the area during the game comes with the full expectation that said items will be kept and proudly displayed in the winner’s home for visual bragging rights. The best part about this adaptation is that it leaves the “sucks to be the seeker, great to be the hider” paradigm fully intact.

Duck Duck Goose – Compliment Compliment Flaw

Everyone knows that sitting in a circle and having someone call out “duck” or “goose” to each person is much too simple an undertaking for sophisticated adult types. Instead, friends can gather around and have a designee rotate specific compliments to each “duck” and then throw a damaging insult at the  “goose” to incite a mad chase around the room. If the insult tosser gets to the insultee’s seat, then the insultee must wait until later after the game to exact their revenge. If played correctly, the termination of the game should bring about a large scale brawl that ends in fractured friendships and broken furniture. Strategy tips; using sarcastic compliments and long pauses to think of compliments for certain players will fluster other players and give saavy linguists a competitive edge.

Red Rover – The First Time you Actually Have to use the Emergency Call Button on your Phone

This requires no changes in semantics, but prepare for much, much different results. I still can’t believe that running into someone’s outstretched arm at full speed was ever endorsed as a children’s game.

Follow the Leader – Shock the Reader

The leader posts an update to Facebook, Twitter, or other agreed upon social media site and the followers must post the exact same message on their respective accounts. For optimum results, choose a leader who frequently posts statuses with blatant spelling/factual errors.

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