Gaga Goes Mainstream as Israeli Dodgeball Game Becomes Fad

Game Takes Off Way Beyond Jewish Camps and Day School

The Circle Game: Schoolchildren in Upper Arlington, Ohio, show their skills at Gaga, which means “touch, touch” in Hebrew.
Courtesy Upper Arlington School District
The Circle Game: Schoolchildren in Upper Arlington, Ohio, show their skills at Gaga, which means “touch, touch” in Hebrew.

By Seth Berkman

Published February 15, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Chris Guertin, president of Sport Resource Group in Minneapolis, Minn., has been manufacturing Gaga pits since 2008. Guertin estimated he has sold 70 pits in 2012, more than double the sales of the previous year. Sport Resource Group’s pits are available in varying sizes and have been sold across the country in schools and camps. Guertin said that, on average, a pit costs $4,000 to $5,000.

Douglass Mann, an associate professor in the health and exercise science department at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., said Gaga helps children develop better skills in lateral movement and backward movement. Mann was first introduced to the game as a counselor at Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, N.J., about seven years ago. He said the game has long been popular in the South Jersey region, but he has recently received an increase in calls and emails from parents, teachers and YMCA leaders from around the country who are interested in learning the game.

“There’s definitely a fitness element to Gaga,” said Melnick, co-owner of South Jersey GaGa. The game helps hand-eye coordination and trains children to be aware, he said, adding, “These kids are running around constantly, working out, moving, running, dodging, jumping. It’s a very physical game for these kids.”

Schmelkin thought one of the reasons Gaga’s popularity has increased was a decrease in the popularity of dodgeball as parents worry about children being hit in the head. In Gaga, the most common injury is “Gaga knuckles,” which can occur when the game is played with a heavier ball, and players hit it with a closed fist rather than an open hand, causing knuckles to scrape the ground.

Greenberg, of the JCC Camps at Medford in N.J., has yet to hear a parent complain about the game’s safety, which has been played at his site since the mid-1990s.

Of Gaga knuckles, he says, “It’s almost like a badge of pride for campers. Kids are proud to go to the nurse’s office with Gaga knuckles; it’s like an initiation.”

Contact Seth Berkman at berkman@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.