The 9 Greatest (Dumbest) Sports Toys
Sports toys. It’s a weird phrase. Sports are competitive, and, by definition, toys are not. So where does one draw the line? It’s a tricky question, and one that retailers have not been able to draw. In hindsight, they all seem pretty silly. I rag on pretty much every toy on this list, as a corkscrew-shaped football and a revision of the pogo stick seem pretty dumb. But at the time, they encouraged us to jump, throw, and compete. Even as toys. So I’m going to go ahead and rag on these dumb toys, but they were the best, as they taught us about sports before we were able to compete. Or after we were able to, but just wanted to have fun. And that’s kind of cool.
9. Wiffle Ball
It looks like baseball, but it just isn’t. Wiffle ball operates under the guise of being a child’s game, but is far harder than anything the pros have to deal with. (My estimation. No hate mail required.) This is a neutered version of baseball, but “neutered” means “far more difficult b/c it requires hand-eye coordination that only a 13 year-old video game junkie can posses.” You can go ahead and get good at wiffle ball, but it will only pay off for about four hours in college. And everyone will wonder why you are practicing hitting a plastic ball in your front yard. Whatever.
8. Nerf Turbo
I’m sure Peyton Manning in a wind tunnel, surrounded by a panel of MIT scientists could get this thing to spiral endlessly and travel 115 yards. A third grader tossing this thing gets the same result he does with a standard football – an emasculated wounded duck that hangs in the air for an eternity and falls 15 yards short of the receiver. Further, it was a hot pink football. Nerf was screwing with us this whole time.
7. Nerf Basketball
In movies, people always played Nerf basketball nonchalantly, while brainstorming or while bored with their friends. That is what we in the entertainment industry call an “expository device.” You have the characters do something…anything to occupy the audience while they reveal information critical to the story. Well, Nerf managed to use this to fool everyone to think that Nerf basketball was this bottomless well of fun and entertainment. Nope. It was good for three games of HORSE until your dog got a hold of the ball and ate it. Then you had a hoop and no ball to remind you that you can’t maintain your belongings nor your pet. Thanks, Nerf.
6. Pogo Ball
I had a Pogo ball. The commercials made it look like an awesome toy that would enable you to jump to the heavens. No dice. It was inflatable and bouncy in theory only. Want a similar experience? Cram a toilet plunger between your feet and hop around on it. I just saved you $25.
Skip-It may not have been designed for girls, but it was a girl’s toy. Which is totally okay. Every 150 or so lists, I like to throw a little something in for the ladies. I really don’t know much about it, but it counted the number of times you jumped and looks deceptively difficult, like rubbing your head and patting your belly. Or drawing a circle with one hand and a square with the other. Basically, it’s like double-Dutch for a girl that can’t acquire two friends. I just saddened myself.
Q: What’s the hardest part about Rollerblading?
A: Telling your dad you’re gay.
That’s how that joke plays out in 2011. Wanna see how it played out in 1993?
Q: What’s the hardest part about Rollerblading?
A: Pulling off these sweet crossover turns while fighting off all this attention from hot women.
A lot can change in 18 years. I miss the old Rollerblading.
3. The Office Putting Green
I included this one strictly for the comedic value. Nothing quite says, “I’m an executive a**hole, but I like to think I’m an even bigger executive a**hole than I actually am,” than one of those silly Sharper Image (RIP) putting greens. As important as you think it makes you, it really just looks like your life didn’t work out like you thought it would. If you were that important, you would take the afternoon off and go golfing. It’s like getting a Miata as a second car then telling everyone you own an import roadster.
2. Nerf Vortex
This guy takes the Turbo concept one step further. Owning one of these screams “I enjoy the throwing and catching of a football-like object, but I am not of the proper carriagen or constitution to participate in any other football activities.” That said, this thing works and you can chuck the hell out of it. (I.e., get one stuck on a roof VERY quickly.)
1. Power Pad
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” Kevin Spacey said that in The Usual Suspects. Honestly, I think the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing kids to convince their parents that video games could enable healthy and active children. Anyone who weasled their parents into buying the Power Pad under those guises is not a con artist, but, rather, a really smart child. The only event the thing really worked for was the triple jump, and any kid that really wanted to jump that much would just play basketball. It was all a ruse. It laid the groundwork for Wii Fit and a million other schemes we would pull on our parents, leading up to high school. Thanks, Nintendo!