Armorball et Calvinball

Juggers was a movie released in 1989. You might never have heard of it because it was not the movie´s real name. It was called The Blood of Heroes but was also released as The Salute of the Jugger. Me and my friends though, we called it simply “Juggers” (pl.) for simplicity´s sake.
The movie starred Rutger Hauer (and Vincent D´Onofrio, as I have just discovered at the IMDB. I like Vince ´cause he so good as the loony cop in Law & Order) and was a very half-ass*d Mad Max-wannabe story set in the proverbial post-apocalyptic near-future, it was the tail end of the Cold War but it was the Cold War still, in which many clans and tribes of warriors competed against each other as gladiators in a game similar to football (North-American), only more violent.
It was love at first sight for us kids and we *had* to try it at home. Hence, that was how Armorball was born back in 1991, once the movie was put for rental on VHS.

Calvin & Hobbes had their Calvinball and it is my deepest belief that every kid should come up with a sport of his own. Most kids did, but in hindsight we were pushing “feat” level there. We made up a game- a sport- that lasted for about seven years from 1991 (first game) to 1998 (last game). We kept on playing until slightly after we had our drivers licenses, after we began going out with girls, we played until after we had graduated from High School; Armorball was that cool.

What we were trying to re-create in real life was the atmosphere of… violence and decay from the movie, straight into our homes but our mothers would never allow us because buddy, were we looking at a world of pain & hurt.
I had access to large quantities of industrial foam back then, the kind used to stuff couches and mattresses. It was light, flexible, free of charge, it was the raw matter of our dreams, we molded it into body armors and helmets held together with little faith and copious amounts of duct tape. You should have seen us; we were magnificent.
The gladiators from the movie also used sticks and chains which we readily replaced with the detached wooden handles from old brooms and some thick nylon cord- the weaponry was discarded after our first game when one of the kids´ heads was split open, this big bleeding slit running across his hairline to above the ear… it was that same kid who died in a completely unrelated car crash during International Women´s Day, 1998. We quit playing Armorball a few months after that; nothing to do with the kid dying.
Still his passing heralded darker times to come, childhood´s end, we were coming of age and the world was coming of age for us as well, the kid next door would let go of saving Calving & Hobbes newspaper clippings in his black binder, then College. Then here, then now. Then zero.

They did not have a ball in the movie, they used the skull from an animal of some sort if I remember things correctly. We chose it to go with an empty ice-cream plastic pot, which we would impale on a rusty metal tube with barbed wire spun around it. The whole barbed wire thing wasn´t such a great idea in the first place, especially when we were 11. We rapidly chose a ball -North-American football- instead (if not for the industrial foam helmet I´d probably had a huge scar on my right cheek).

As the years we went by we changed the rules, changed our gear, changed the places in which we would play, people came & people went. Armorball was kind of a staple for us kids in our hometown, all our schoolmates wanted in but our course we were selective as hell- people would inevitably get hurt playing so we´d always stick with the most level-headed pals we´d have… otherwise it´d all go down in fighting.
We would keep the armors but totally ditch our helmets. We started allowing punching and kicking first, then we pretty much abolished every previous rule against violence. As we grew up we also grew stronger and the sore lips and broken arms began. Two kids actually broke their arms playing Armorball in those seven years; one of them fell over his own arm and the other- we called him Harry because of the movie with the Bigfoot, whom he sort of resembled- was kicked over a large metal garden trash collector, it was so messy, lucky thing there his dad was a physician or something.
We´d always play on Saturdays or Sundays and the next Monday at school was to die for, everybody asking What the heck happened to your lips? How did you break your arm? Were you punched in the face? Did you get into a fight?

We took pictures of two or three games. I still have them to this day; there´s this one in which my cousin and I are so going at each other, him throwing a punch at me and I at him, almost comic book-style but so real, hurt so much in the ensuing week, and there´s the other shot with [name] on the ground holding the ball with everything he´s got as he´s being kicked in the head; it was so beautiful.
We stopped just shy of coming up with a website for Armorball. We never did. Let this be its record for posterity, so that the world knows, so that we never forget.