#142 Red Rover

It’s pretty simple.

A line of kids hold hands on one side of the playground while a kid from the other side runs at them with a head full of steam and tries to bust through.

The game’s not over until the field is littered with broken arms, bloody noses, and shattered glasses.

It’s one of the most dangerous playground games out there.

And one of the most fun.


Photo from: here

54 thoughts on “#142 Red Rover

  1. Huh… I think we have a different version Down Under.

    “Red Rover, Red Rover, three steps and you’re over.”

    Everyone stands at one end, except for “It”, who calls out the rhyme. You have three steps to get as close to the other side as you can while “It” can’t tag you, then you run like hell. If “It” tags you, you sit down where you stand, and try and tag other people with only your arms – you can’t move from your tag-spot.

    Incredibly different, but I shall agree – Red Rover is freakin’ AWESOME!

    1. Yeaaaaaah I remember this version! We played an “easier” one if you will in my friends massive front lawn. We did the whole “Red Rover, Red Rover” rhyme and then you had to run past two people who were the taggers. If you were tagged then you were frozen and someone else could tag you to save you. If not you were it for the next round and the other person became a runner. We had HEAPS of fun and I used to run around in my socks so the bottoms would be green by dinner time. Ah, good times.

      1. Kinda sound like Stuck In The Mud, where you get tagged, but someone can crawl under your legs to free you.

        Ahhh, I wanna play these games again!

        (Also: Simone, how old do you think I am? LOL)

        1. Yeah, we played stuck in the mud – def remember that one –
          oh & 44Home was good too! – not that I would remember how to play it now though!

          & Jess- hmm I don’t know – maybe…….. low to mid 20’s? LOL – how old do you all think I am?

          1. Haha, yeah, ’bout right. Just the way you said “before my time” made me think that you thought I was much older than you!

            …And I will guess 18-ish. ;)

            1. Wow. . . we played all of the versions of the games y’all just mentioned here. Of course under different names!

              “Red Rover”” as it was described in the post,
              The first one badguy described we called “Octopus” (but without the rhyme)
              What Lizzie described, we called “Helper Tag”
              . . .Stuck in the Mud was a good Tag too, but my favorite of the tags was cartoon tag. “When the ‘It’ person tagged you, you had 3 seconds to shout out the name of a cartoon character — that previously had not been mentioned — or you were ‘It'” Got much harder as the game was played and all of the easy cartoon characters had been named. . .

              Now, I want to play tag or Red Rover again!

        2. Your “stuck in the mud” was my freeze tag, where one of the version was you froze where ever you were tag and someone had to go under your legs to unfreeze you!

        3. Man anyone ever heard of wallsies? That and red rover was pretty much the two most dangerous games we played at school. It pretty much is hand ball meets dodgeball, with the penalty being getting pelted as hard as possible w/ tenis balls by everyone who was playing, oh good times :/

      2. Speaking as another Aussie, we called this (ie. Neil’s post) Red Rover and what you’re describing we called Octopus (or anything else that had a huge variety of names) – all awesome of course, but funny how names shuffle around like that!

  2. While I can appreciate it for the fun of the idea, I don’t support the holding of hands and running through. The tag-like version sounds fun though. Red Rover was banned in my elementary school when I was in 5th grade. I had one friend who crashed into a wall while playing with her head (ok, so we didn’t have the smartest playplace, but hey!) and one friend hit his head on the ground when he fell through the line of people. I’ve heard of so many shoulder and arm injuries too.

    However, certain childhood games are AWESOME!!!!!

  3. Love Red Rover! I have a scar inside my lip from the time I literally flipped around the hands of two other girls and landed flat on my face. Still… the game is amazing!

  4. I only remember playing Red Rover in my early elementary school days, first and second grade maybe. No one ever broke through though, so I didn’t really understand the point in the game. I guess we all were just too afraid to run harder or everyone just held hands real tight.

  5. Aw…yeah! Growing up in my neighbourhood we played this all the time. I was one of the younger kids playing, so I would often be “called over” or targetted as the weak link to try to break through, so it was SWEET when I either broke through (rarely) or held off the attacker. Also it was a great chance to hold hands with that cute boy next door…

  6. I think I went to school with Kim:)
    Snow-pie tag was really fun because there’s snow to cushion the wipe-outs!
    Kick the can and Knicky-knocky-nine doors were the favs of the night!

  7. HA HA I loved this game too! But then again, I did always like the games like field hockey and soccer where sometimes you ended up with a few bruises. Red Rover – wow, haven’t thought about that in years! :-)

  8. I completely agree with this post! Red Rover is one of the most fun/dangerous games ever…and if you think playing as a child was rough enough, try playing it with a huge group of college kids! By some miracle, I made it out of there without breaking any bones…but my forearms were sore for an entire week. It was totally worth it, though.

  9. I only got a few years of playing Red Rover before it got banned at my school.. so, you might be able to guess my age based on that.. I would’ve been about 8 or 9 when schools switched from still allowing kids to have fun before they squashed that from the fear of litigation.. :)

    1. Yeah, I was going to say … I’m forced to be the playground meanie who has to regretfully and painfully stop kids from playing an old fave :( :( :(

      Red Rover, Red Rover, send FUN back over …

        1. Hey Awesome-mate :)
          My avatar? You COULD say this blue is a dusty shade of the baby blues ;)
          ‘Red Rover’ may be over, but
          I’m still grateful for you!

          1. Awe~ I’d say “ditto”, but it wouldn’t rhyme with,
            “Magda, I’ll always be grateful for you!!”
            Baby blues huh? The mystery peeks interest in my curiosity…
            when sealed with a wink, you really make me *think…*
            Seriously, miss your comments, creative and “bright from the heart”,
            A *Magnanymous* blog-space YOU could start!

              1. on “wends”… I see me in a study, legs crossed in a leather wing-back, the big buttons on my long heavy tweed sweater match the leather of my chair. The pipe I’m smoking smells like cherry wood… “NO, no, no, no… I don’t smoke it no more!”
                But I do like how smart ring “wends” sounds:)
                Looking forward to dashing through the snow with the gang to the finish line…to see what we will see… SO HAPPY YOU’LL be here and there!!!

  10. The dangerous games are always the most fun. What good is laughter if not for tears? Tag games are the best, though. When I was in elementary school, I loved Capture the Flag. Awesome game!

  11. The Awesome Thing
    Do you know what is awesome? Traveling the world would be really awesome ! because you get to meet new people, make new friendships and learn about things that you never seen before, Awesome!!!!!

    Where do you think that I really want to go?I would love to go to Hawaii!! Because it would be cool to learn about how they live,dance,eat…..
    i would love to go to school their because I think it is very different from here. I know because when I went to school in China it was way different from here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I didn’t get to experience this game until high school during band camp. And I actually played this a couple of weeks ago while camping with a college org. It was amazing, especially in the dark with only a lantern as our light source. And it was awesome holding hands with the cute Australian exchange student :P

    1. Night falls, it’s not the middle of the night but the evening. You are a team of about 5. You all walk up to a door or better an entire apt. building and knock or ring all the buzzers and then run like hell…especially if you’re with a particularly daring bunch who want to disturb those who are easily set off and may even chase the lot of you! It can be cause for some really great adrenaline rushes! Stumbles, falls, injuries and even sometimes, pee your pants laughing fearful fun!!!

  13. Do you remember the last littlest one to be called over, he would run full steam, bounce back and end up hanging himself over the locked hands of the line while everyone giggled and sometimes the weight of his little body would work but sometimes not. We were an easygoing little group in our ‘hood’, don’t remember anyone getting really hurt. Good memories, thanks!

  14. To my ever-loving shame, we played this game at my engagement party, and I totally thought it was a good idea to try to slam through a woman 140 pounds my junior. Somehow, she held on, but the fact that I went up against someone so mismatched to myself is one of the three or four things I continually feel guilty about having done. Oh well.

  15. A few of my friends and I played this game at recess last year…. my friend Emily ended up with.. broken glasses and a sprained ankle by the time the game was done!

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  17. I played Red Rover with a group of friends at a birthday party, probably early high school or late junior high. We were clearly too old for this game but that didn’t matter. It was all fun and games until my tooth ended up in my friend’s head. Luckily it didn’t separate from my mouth, but I’m pretty sure there is still a dent in her head to this day, 6+ years later.

  18. I remember this game in primary school, it was vicious!
    Eventually it got banned when someone broke an arm…

  19. I just turned 16 but I totally remember playing this with friends, so the awesomeness hasn’t been forgotten :)

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