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Creating a Junkyard Sport

This is an excerpt from Junkyard Sports by Bernie DeKoven.

This is an excerpt from Junkyard Sports by Bernie DeKoven.

Every junkyard sport has four elements:

  1. People
  2. Place
  3. Junk
  4. Games

The more diverse the participants in skill, age, or ability, the more potential for social learning and challenge. For example, a new sport, designed by a group that includes some people who use wheelchairs and some who don't, is a sport that leads to deeper social contact between those groups. Playing with a diverse group makes it impossible to play any known sport without changing the rules, which in turn makes the process of developing junkyard sports so challenging and rewarding. The more specific and unusual the environment, the greater the challenge to players' observation and planning skills.

The more diverse the junk is, the more creative players' reasoning will be. Recommended junk collections include materials for uniforms: foam rubber, tape, bubble wrap, ribbon, along with household objects like brooms, socks, pantyhose . . . the possibilities are endless.

Every junkyard sport is made by combining rules from one sport with those of another game, sport, or toy. Having not just one set of rules, but a collection of rules, makes it possible for participants to adapt the sport more easily to physical, social, and environmental opportunities. The effective selection and combination of rules from two different sports challenges reasoning, creative, and predictive skills.


Of the four ingredients of junkyard sports, people remain the most important. They have the strongest influence over what gets played and how much fun it turns out to be. There are lots of different ways to classify people. The key word is different. The more diverse the mix of people, the more delightful the success of the junkyard sport.

There are a lot of ways to look at the differences among people: ability, age, skill, culture, language, height, strength, gender, alertness, popularity, weight, intelligence, energy. And each combination of people affects the design and experience of a junkyard sport. The greater the diversity, the more unique the challenge to the player and designers.

Coming up with a sport that can be played with equal delight by people with disabilities, seniors, adults, young children, the academically gifted, and cognitively challenged is a gift to all who participate. It creates and extends community. It develops understanding and compassion. It stimulates creativity. Getting people out to play with other populations strengthens their connection to one another and to humanity. The concept of junkyard sports was developed with this in mind. It is often difficult to adapt a traditional sport to the needs of a diverse community. On the other hand, any sport that this community develops for itself is bound to be one that can be played by another community with a similar range of abilities.

Read more from Junkyard Sports.

More Excerpts From Junkyard Sports