Butts Up is one of those games that you play with neighbourhood kids when you are a neighbourhood kid. It’s not too dissimilar to a hybrid of Racquetball and Dodgeball. One segment idea that I’ve always had for the show that will probably ever get done, because (well, aside from it being my idea, and not Miguel or Nathan’s idea) it would be a little complicated to organize. The idea is to organize a local Butts Up tournament and tape it. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to explain the rules of the game as I remember them, and whoever is feeling industrious can tape a tournament. At which point you will post it to You Tube, become an overnight sensation, and get a contract with some cable station or another that likes reality programming. When you’re interviewed about the key to your success, I want you to say, “The key to my success is that it was Chris’s idea, not Miguel or Nathan’s idea, and since it was never done, I did it.”
For Butt’s Up you need a tennis ball or racquetball, the side of a building, and a group of people. The size of the group doesn’t matter, but I recommend 2 or more, leaning toward the 4 to 8 range.
It doesn’t really matter who starts the game, but if you’d like to find some sort of official way, go ahead. For a group, possibly the easiest way (other than somebody, who can’t believe you talked them into this, having a 20-sided die) is to tell everybody to choose heads or tails, then split into two groups, and flip a coin. The people in the losing group don’t participate in the next flip. Do this until there is only one person remaining. Obviously, if you have two people, one has to choose heads and one has to choose tails, or they can’t split into two groups.
The player who starts the game, throws the ball against the wall, and the ball will bounce back. If the ball doesn’t bounce back, replace the ball. The object is for a player to catch the ball one handed, and throw it against the wall again from the same spot the player caught it. If no player catches it, any player may pick the ball up from where it lands. It’s pretty simple, until player doesn’t catch the ball or it doesn’t hit the wall.
If the ball touches a player, and then touches the ground, they have to run to the wall. This can happen when the ball bounces from the wall, and hits a player. It can also happen if a player tries to catch it, and drops it. It can happen if a player tries to pick it up from a sitting position, and drops it. This can happen if a player accidentally kicks it in a sitting position. Basically, almost anyway in which the makes contact with a player, and then touches the ground.
This includes if a player throws the ball, and it hits the ground before it hits the wall. Remember, once a player catches the ball, that player has to throw it from where they caught it, or where they stumbled to as long as it’s clear it was a real stumble. If the ball has bounced particularly far from the wall, hitting the wall may be difficult, and a player may have to run to the wall.
Exception #1: If the ball touches a player, and another player catches it before it hits the ground, the player touched by the ball still has to run to the wall. In short, if the ball touches a player, and does not end up in that player’s hand, that player should start running to the wall.
Exception #2: If a player catches the ball with two hands, and any other player yells, “Two hands!” the player must drop the ball, and run to the wall.
Before the next exception, let me explain what happens when a player must run to the wall. The running player has to touch the wall before another player hits them with the ball. There can be more than one player running to the wall at the same time. The ball can bounce off two players and hit the ground. A player picking up the ball to peg a running player may drop it. A player might try to peg a running player, missing both the running player and the wall.
Exception #3: If a player pegs a player running to the wall, the game pauses. They do not have to run to the wall, because they hit the running player. The running player no longer has to run to the wall, because they have already suffered the penalty. I’ll explain the penalty system in a moment.
The way we played the game, players were not to interfere with a player throwing to the wall. Basically, a player can’t catch the ball to keep it from getting to the wall, and then peg the thrower. Further, if the player throwing to the wall hits another player accidentally, the throwing player must run to the wall, and the player accidentally hit does not. Since the hit player is closer to the wall, they will probably peg the throwing player who is now the running player.
We had no rule against intentionally pegging somebody while trying to throw to the wall, because nobody did it, but if you wish to make one to avoid an issue feel free. I don’t know what a reasonable rule would be, so hopefully you don’t have any dickheads. I would presume that more than a couple of clearly intentional violations could result in expulsion from the game if somebody is just being a jerk.
When a player has been occasioned to run to the wall and another player pegs the running player before they touch the wall, the running player who was pegged is assigned a penalty point. (Note: If a player makes it to the wall and then is pegged soon after, the player trying to peg them needs to get running to the wall, unless the ball miraculously still hits the wall before it hits the ground.) When a player has three penalty points, that player has to stand back from the wall, and bend over to place their hands on the wall. This is called “going butt up.” Each of the other players gets one free shot, from a pre-designated spot, to throw the ball and hit the player who has gone butt up in the butt. Misses do not require the free throw player to run to the wall. They are already penalized by not getting to humiliate the player who has gone butt up.
In a freeform game, the penalty points of the player who has gone butt up go to zero, and that player rejoins the game. In a tournament, I presume a player who has gone butt up is now eliminated. I’ve never organized a tournament, so I don’t know if it’s better to do an elimination game each time, or to assign points to different actions with a scorekeeper nearby in a timed game, or for elimination to occur after more than one time that a player has gone butt up. I presume that it’s best to do elimination after the first time a player goes butt up.
If you’re playing casually then each player can be a referee, and just don’t argue the small stuff. If you are playing for a prize pool, I would get a couple of referees, and somebody to keep a verification of penalty points.
I’ve heard of Dodgeball leagues, and honestly, Dodgeball is a great game, but the truth is I would rather play Butts Up any day. It is such a fun and involved game, with a touch of humiliation thrown in. If I were the host of a critique show called, “At the Sports Games,” I would give this game an enthusiastic Butt Up. That was obvious, wasn’t it?