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Ringoleavio

Guys chasing each other
Click for bigger picture
The fine art of running around
If you took away all the ball games, Ringoleavio was probably the best team game we knew. It was competitive, intense and long. Really long. Games could go on for hours, even days which is just about half of an eternity when you're a kid.

Ringoleavio, Ringolario, Ringolearyo--the name depended on the neighborhood, as did some variations in the rules. Basically, you choose up two teams of any number of players. One team would be the hunters, one team would be hunted. The goal of the hunters would be to catch all the members of the other team. A stoop, bench, monkey bar or other urban landmark would be the hunters base, (AKA jail). The team being hunted would try to avoid capture and if possible, free their jailed compatriots. Not rocket science, but you did get into coordinated strategy, deception and true heroics.

Hunters would usually travel in packs, trying to trap an individual opponent and bring him or her (this was one of the better coed games) back to the jail. If a hunter grabbed you and said "Rinoleavio one, two three," then you were caught, had to submit to being a prisoner and were escorted to jail. You were then held captive until the end of the game--or if you were freed by one of your remaining teammates.

That was where the excitement really came in--trying to free your captured pals. If there were a couple of you left, you might try to work it together. You'd quietly sneak up as close as you could get and then make a run towards the base, one person drawing out the jailer, while the other busted through to free the prisoners. If they had more than one person "covering" the jail, one player might appear somewhere relatively close but seemingly running away to draw out the coverage and make he defense easier to penetrate. Making it to the base and yelling "Home free" would allow all your captured teammates to jump out, scatter in all directions and once again set the game in motion.

Where we lived the game was not over until all the players were caught or if all your team figured it wasn't worth waiting for you anymore and gave up. Ringloeavio was related to, but not a form of hide and seek. It was not considered good taste to simply disappear into some out of the way, tough to find spot for several hours. You were supposed to make frequent appearances on the field, to tease and draw out the enemy. Valor was demonstrated by agility, speed and daring moves made just beyond the grasp of enemy players. Let no one be mistaken, simple endurance was also a highly valued quality.

Ringoleavio could be played anywhere--but the city environment really gave it character. Cars, benches, fences and other urban features framed the "fields" and added excitement to the chase.


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