February 11, 2005

Smear The Queer

This post by Joshua jogged my memory back to the elementary school days of "Smear The Queer."

The premise of Smear The Queer was thus: ten or more of us would meet outside during noon hour (or during Friday night football games), and we'd have this ball, usually a football, but not always. The game, such as it was, required some brave soul amongst the crowd to rush in and grab the ball.

Once you were in possession of the ball, you became "The Queer." And, as the rest of the name indicates, it then became the goal of everybody else to "Smear" you, which was a fairly loose term that primarily involved tackling, but could also include tripping, kicking, punching or, in some cases, clotheslining.

As prejudicial as it sounds, we had no idea what a "queer" actually was, or at least I didn't. All I knew was that, whoever the queer was, they usually ended up getting violently smeared and would usually leave the game in tears. But they'd always come back eventually.

And, for some reason, I was unbelievably good at being the queer. I mean, I grabbed for that ball all the damned time. I would grab it, get killed, and be right back in there trying to grab it again.

I can still remember the exhiliration even today. There was something very primal about Smear The Queer: the fight or flee drama of the whole thing. I was never all that keen on tackling the queer, but I went for that ball every chance I got.

Dare I say it, I loved being queer.

Eventually, teachers heard us referring to the game as Smear The Queer and told us not to call it that any more. I wasn't sure why. So, we just opted to call it Smear, and teachers were fine with that, until they actually saw us playing it, at which point they tried to ban it all together. But, we came up with a clandestine way of playing that involved moving the game around the playground throughout the hour so the supervisor couldn't see us.

Smear, obviously, morphed into football once I entered the 7th grade, which I never found as genuinely fun as Smear. If ESPN started airing games of Smear The Queer, I'm pretty sure their ratings would skyrocket. At least I'd watch.

UPDATE: Argh! I'm a victim of a vicious Maureen Dowd attack!

Posted by Ryan at February 11, 2005 01:34 PM

We used to call that "muckle the man in the middle" or "muckle the man with the football".

Posted by: David Grenier at February 11, 2005 02:13 PM

I used to play football with the guys on the weekends for the hell of it in middle school (I never played for the high school team). We'd usually attempt to play a real game of football for all of like 15 minutes before it just turned into a big game of smear the queer. I'd get my ass handed to me whenever we played because I was the fat, slow kid.

It was very satisfying to go from being the fat kid who always got beat on to being one of the fastest kids in our class by the time senior year rolled around.

Posted by: Rick at February 11, 2005 02:36 PM

"Muckle the Man in The Middle?" I would say that sounds so. . . wrong, but I can't, because "Smear The Queer" really is, by far, worse.

Posted by: Ryan at February 11, 2005 02:45 PM

The politically correct version of "smear the queer" in my area was to call the game "bulldog". Believe it or not, this name actually made sense to me, because part of the object of the game was not to let the ball go. Other kids would pile on top of you and kick you and try to force the ball out of your hands, but you had to hold on for dear life. Like a bulldog, obviously.

Posted by: Joshua at February 11, 2005 03:40 PM

This post here dredged up memories of this post, which is a good post. I too remember the game as Smear the Queer, this from an old neighborhood in Phoenix. We just weren't as sensitive as your Seattle or new England types. Saying "muckle" (???) or "bulldog" would have gotten your ass kicked. That's probably because of all the stinking Mexicans.

(I'm kidding, iditos.)

Posted by: Dylan at February 11, 2005 09:36 PM

It was "kill the man with the ball" in my neighborhood. Although there was no official winner, the best player was usually considered to be the one with the most success in gaining and maintaining possession of the ball. So I'm kinda puzzled as to why the prestigious and sought-after role of ball carrier would be stigmatized with a supposedly pejorative name like "The Queer."

Posted by: Jimmo at February 12, 2005 06:17 AM

And in light of the dangerous nature of the game, it's good to see that you have since shifted your focus to a safer sport. I'm not sure everyone appreciates your unorthodox technique, though.

Posted by: Jimmo at February 12, 2005 06:28 AM

Wow, I can't even imagine anyone even suggesting a game of "Smear the Queer" anymore and yeah, I grew up playing it too.

I wonder what other anti-gay activities I was indoctrinated with as a child?

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at February 14, 2005 12:21 PM

Thing is, Johnny, I wouldn't say I was indoctrinated into anything. The word "queer" had no context for me. I didn't know it was a euphemism for gay, and I didn't even really know what it meant to be "gay." I just figured "queer" meant that you were crazy if you picked up that damned ball. I didn't know what "queer" meant until middle school or later.

Posted by: Ryan at February 14, 2005 12:43 PM

hey, i was just playing smear the queer today at my highschool in texas. We actually started off playing soccer which morphed into "soccer/vollyball", which then turnned into football, which obviously bacame smear the queer. It was totally awsome and we were seriously serving up some shit. The coolest part was that being that there were girls playing we got some specail rules, like if we said stop, all the guys would really get up and stop, but besides that we got tackled all the same. Becasue it started off as soccer it was more of "smear the queer via teams" and the "queer" would run like in foot ball to the goal and thus makeing pionts. It was pretty cool espeacialy since its been raining and we were on owr crappy ghetto front lawn....pretty damn cool though, pretty damn cool...

Posted by: nikole at April 20, 2005 06:41 PM
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