The Internet Is Up In Arms Over What This Adolescent Playground Basketball Game Is Actually Called

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The Internet Is Up In Arms Over What This Adolescent Playground Basketball Game Is Actually Called

I’ve always loved the subject of regional dialect in the United States. I find it really fascinating that even though we are all united to form one nation, you can travel from region to region and find that each set of people have a sound and vernacular that is completely unique to them. Not only do people talk with different accents in some areas, but they also use totally different words or phrases to describe the same thing. This gives the people from part of the U.S. at least one distinguishable feature about themselves and is just one component of the melting pot that is our country.

The best part of regional dialect though is the internet flame wars that always break out whenever the subject is brought up. Ask a group of internet commenters what word they use to call a carbonated beverage and they will viciously argue for hours on end about how the word they use is the factually correct one and that any other usage to describe it not only is wrong, but makes the people who use it intellectually inferior. There’s several different objects and words that you could insert in place of carbonated beverages in the discussion, but today we just found a new one that I personally never would have even thought of had it not been brought to my attention.

Seth Rosenthal, a writer for SB Nation, was watching a video of the Kansas football team play a certain type of playground basketball game (Hot Take Sidenote: This is probably why their football team sucks so bad. They’re not even practicing the right sport! SMH) with his colleagues when he discovered that the game was not known by one unanimous name like he always thought. I’ll let him take it from here:

On Thursday, some Kansas football players wheeled a basketball hoop onto the field and played a familiar playground game. You’re probably familiar with these rules:

Everyone lines up single-file, the two people at the front of the line each get one basketball, and those two try to make a jump shot (or a subsequent layup) before the person with the other basketball does so. If you make your shot fast enough, you hand your ball to the person in front of the line and go to the back. If you can’t make a shot before the person behind you makes one, you are out, and eventually everyone but a single winner is eliminated.

I have always called this game “Knockout.” I have never even considered that it could have another name. But as soon as the topic came up among my SB Nation friends, two of us from Michigan expressed that they’d never heard the game called anything but “Lightning.” I was so surprised and excited I threw up.

I have never heard this game referred to by any other name besides Knockout. In the context of games in general, when I hear the word “Knockout” the first thing that comes to mind is the game that Rosenthal described above. It describes the nature of the game perfectly. If the person behind you makes a shot before you, you are “Knocked out” of the game. Why call it anything else? And who calls it anything else? Well, Rosenthal conducted a poll asking people around the country what name they call it, and here are his results:

— “Knockout” is most popular. It especially dominates the East Coast of the United States and most of our abroad responses. HOWEVER!

— As the SB Nation revelation predicted, there are some strong regional exceptions, the first of which is a hotbed of “Lightning” centered around the Midwest — Michigan in particular.

— The Pacific Northwest and Canada seem to be the biggest fans of “Bumpout” and “Bump.” I also had one Oregon person tell me people around there call the game “Crunch.”

— Southerners don’t use “Gotcha” exclusively, but they were the only ones to use it.

Knockout received the most votes by far at over 75%, but there were a few regional-specific answers that took a good chunk of votes away from it. Lightning is the exclusive name of the game in the Upper-Midwestern states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as the Dakotas. I don’t know why all the residents of the Upper Midwest got together and conspired to call the game of Knockout by an incorrect name, but apparently that’s what they decided on. Out in the Pacific Northwest, they call the game Bumpout or Bump. Of course those hippies call it something that doesn’t sound as violent as Knockout. And a good amount of people in the South use the name Gotcha, which I find to be very humorous and Southern.

I still can’t believe that Knockout is so commonly referred to by a different name in other parts of the country. I’ve seen people talk about Knockout online but have never seen the names Lightning or Bumpout come up once. That’s probably because the majority of people already know to call the game by its proper name of Knockout. Then again, that’s the beauty of regional dialect. People across different regions refer to the same thing by different names, no matter how wrong they are. And you better believe they’re about to flood the comments section with their staunch defenses of why they are right.

[via SB Nation]

Image via Shutterstock

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