Make me a kid again.
Go ahead, do it. Roll up the Zoltar machine and lets get this thing on the road. I want to go back to a time when I could sling foam balls at strangers and not have to pose for a mug shot afterward.
Those were simpler days filled with simpler toys. Playing fake football used to involve scooting a paper wedge across a desk, not refreshing a Yahoo! page and weeping inwardly.
With that said, the following is a ranking of the best sports toys from our childhood. I'm not talking video games like Madden '88, I'm talking about the toys you jumped on, threw or used to bludgeon each other. The good stuff, essentially.
These are the best sports toys from our childhood.
♫ Pogo Ball: You'll turn your (bleep)ing ankle and cry! ♫
That's not exactly how the Pogo Ball jingle went, but that sure is what Pogo Ball-ing felt like. Taking a running jump off a rolling basketball would've yielded roughly the same height and results as Pogo-Balling.
Some of us needed that bite of reality, however. We were young, and our encounter with the Pogo Ball taught us an important lesson—should've asked for a trampoline.
Alternate Usage: Picking up wet rice.
Strangely enough, hunting other human beings was the sport of choice when we were kids.
Soccer was fun and basketball was a blast, but nothing reached the thrill of dividing up into teams and riddling each other with foam bullets and arrows.
I'm including only the Nerf Bow in this list because of its elegance. The Nerf Minigun was cool, but there was nothing tactful about blasting 40 foam shells in your buddy's face. The Nerf Bow was the sportsman's choice—one shot, one kill.
Alternate Usage: Killing yard geese because someone had to put food on the table.
Image via duxndogs.net
Ah...we meet again, Ankle Breaker.
I never trusted the Skip-It and I never will. I still have flashbacks of the time I nearly lost a foot to one of these contraptions. My sister was playing with it in the driveway, and like a fool, I hazarded too close and caught the heavy pendulum square in the ankle.
That said, I may not like the Skip-It, but I respect it as a worthy adversary.
Alternate Usage: Before the French abandoned Vietnam, they left thousands of Skip-It traps hidden in the jungles and mountain passes. The number of innocent lives lost to these spinning claymores is still counting.
If you didn't strap miniature men to your hands before thumb wrestling, you were in the Stone Age, kid.
WWF Thumbwrestlers were one step away from being thimbles, but it's that one important step that made you forget you can play this game for free.
Alternate Usage: Whimsical hitchhiking tool.
Use them, abuse them and always buy the coolest looking one you can find at the store.
Those were the rules when it came to collecting Matchbox cars. Granted, most mine didn't make it past a year with me, however, I was kind enough to keep them in a special little car-carrying briefcase. Because that's how used Matchbox dealers roll.
Alternate Usage: Perfect for giving new wood floors that weathered, dented look.
Why run outside when you can pay money to act like you're doing it indoors?
The Nintendo Power Pad meant well, but its entertainment value didn't live up to the hype that surrounded it in the late '80s. The Power Pad was originally released in Japan as the "Family Trainer," which had an ominous undertone that was apparently a bit too fascist for American consumers.
You were ahead of your time, Power Pad, and the developers of Dance Dance Revolution owe you a round.
Alternate Usage: Makes for a nice heavy tarp in a gale, or a very boring game of Twister.
Are you not friends with someone who owns a real basketball hoop?
No problem, the people at Koosh knew how it felt.
Always the second fiddle to Nerf, this company had to burn a trail in indoor sports entertainment. Its crowning achievement was Koosh Hoops, which we all used, abused and eventually broke off the wall. Mom and dad relished every chance they got to come in your room and put it back up, of course.
Alternate Usage: There's always one guy at the office with one of these over his trash can.
They were like Beanie Babies you could suplex.
WWF Wrestling Buddies stayed with you through all moods, and like your best friend, they forgive you for throwing them against the wall from time to time.
Alternate Usage: Body pillow.
Rule: If ESPN can televise the World Series of Poker with a straight face, I can consider Pogs a sports toy.
Furthermore, if you played Pogs how my friends and I played, you'd know that those metal slammers are an 1/8th of an inch away from being functioning ninja stars.
Things got physical when the Pogs began to fly in my house, and someone usually ended up crying and running home. Who would've known that these little cardboard chips would've brought out the martial arts champion in all of us.
Alternate Usage: Great for denting drywall.
The Turbo was Nerf's first work of art and a godsend for kids born with stone hands.
After years of taking rawhide to the face and throwing dead ducks back to dad, the Turbo was a foam-filled gift from above. You could catch it easily, mainly due to the fact that it wasn't a hard bladder of air that weighed as much as your head.
Also, the ergonomic grooves around the edges made for an easy spiral. Some of us wouldn't have made it to ten with all of our fingers if not for this wonderful invention. Thanks, Nerf.
Alternate Usage: Waking up your college roommate.
The name said it all.
They rocked, they socked and then—PING—someone's head almost flipped off. Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots was about as simple and joyous as any game out there, and it taught kids an important lesson about physical confrontations—stop punching when their head pops off.
Alternate Usage: The robots make sweet birthday cake ornaments.
If it weren't for paper football, we all would've resented our parents a lot more for not picking us up from school on time.
While not a store-bought toy, the paper football was the embodiment of everything that was considered "cool" when we were kids. Being able to fashion a little triangle out of a sheet of paper made you look like a B.A., and the entertainment value of scooting said triangle across a desk was inexhaustible.
Don't forget the field goal, which your opponent would sometimes instinctively help you score by moving their hands.
Alternate Usage: You could write a note on the side and flick it to your friend when you were done.
There it is, the most beautiful football God ever made.
By "God," of course, I mean the genius design crew at Nerf, who apparently know what children like better than actual children.
These guys took the Nerf Turbo and shoved a crossbow bolt in one end. Still not satisfied? They cut a whistler tip in the side so our friends could hear it before it smacked them in the head at 60 mph.
Alternate Usage: Army snipers keep a Vortex Mega Flight on hand in case they run of .50 cal ammo.
You know what's great? We're grown up and we cannot stay away from this game.
Go to any Dave and Buster's on a Saturday and you'll see group after group of college graduates and 30-year-olds swearing their faces off trying to get the best score on Shootout Basketball.
We may have a Budweiser in our hand now, but we still feel the same joy we felt the first time we came upon this magical little ball-shooting game.
Alternate Usage: Instead of flipping a coin, say that whoever scores the fewest points buys the next round.
We didn't just "play" on the trampoline as kids—we grew up on the trampoline.
If you didn't have one, you made friends with someone who did. Why? Because the trampoline was the end-all, be-all of childhood toys.
It was a basketball court, a hammock and the Octagon all rolled into one. You didn't just bludgeon each other senseless on the trampoline, you lived your life on that thing. You practiced finishing moves, did flips and pretended to be a Pokemon.
I executed my first dunk, dropkick and "Quick Attack" on a trampoline. Don't worry, nobody died. It was just the best thing ever.
Alternate Usage: Place to smooch with your crush and look at the stars.
You like trampolines. I like trampolines. Lets talk about it on Twitter.