Groomsman Games Event #9: Knockout

The second to last event of the Groomsman Games was mine (attn: foreshadowing) and I chose a playground game from our younger days – knockout.

I love knockout. I must have played it almost every day after elementary school at my daycare. I was good, too. I’ve been advocating for the NBA All-Star game to institute knockout for years. I played it any and every chance I had through the last year of gym: sophomore year of high school.

And then I stopped.

In fact I didn’t just stop playing knockout, I stopped touching basketballs all together until nine years later when the Groomsman Games came calling.

My strategy in picking my event for the Games was to wait for everyone else to pick their event and then choose something that rounded out the games. I didn’t want my event to overlap or be too similar to someone else’s and force them to alter their event or choose another. You see, I’m a sharer and I love order. Despite being an only child (or maybe because of it), I have a strong desire to see everyone get included and let others go before me so that they get a turn.

It was for this reason that I chose knockout. We had already played a video game, I didn’t want to have another eating challenge, (at the time) we had a running challenge, I didn’t want to do more drinking challenges and I didn’t want to do anything else indoors. The Fall weather was too nice and we needed good excuses to be outside. With only my event to be named, the others were firmly unique and I needed a good complement.

Paging through the nostalgia in my head I came to knockout. We had all played the game growing up. McCannon had done the HRD, but the sports were more than different enough. I didn’t care that I hadn’t played in nine years and didn’t sit advantageously like most of the other groomsmen’s events – it was a good choice of something from our childhood and it was fun.

The Rules, as per Wikipedia:

Knockout is a basketball game with the following requirements:

  • Two players or more in a single-file line, typically starting at the free-throw line [note: we lined up at the top of the arc]
  • Two basketballs, held by the first two players in line

The structure of the game is defined as follows:

  • The first player in line begins the game by taking an initial shot.
  • As soon as the first player has taken the initial shot, the second player may step up to the line and take his or her shot.
  • If a player’s initial shot does not go in, he or she may rebound the basketball and attempt to make a basket from any location (most often, a layup would be attempted because it is an easier shot to make than a standard jump shot).
  • Once a player makes a basket, he or she must immediately pass the ball to the next player at the front of the line and then go to the end of the line. The player at the front of the line may take his or her shot immediately upon receiving a ball.
  • If any player does not make his or her shot before the person behind them, he or she is “knocked out” and is out until a new game starts.
  • The order of the players cannot change during the game except by shrinking in size as players are knocked out.
  • The game continues until everyone is knocked out except for one final player, who is deemed the winner.

We were going to play three games of knockout with each game’s winner through loser receiving 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points respectively. Scores would be added up after the three games to determine placing in the event.

Event Standings:
1. Eli – 10 points
2. Cliff – 7 points
3. Rudy – 5 points
4. McCannon – 3 points
5. Bart – 2 points
6. Al – 1 point

Overall Standings:
McCannon – 53.5 points
Clifford – 44 points
Elijah – 41 points
Rudy – 40 points
Al – 37.5 points
Bart – 36 points

Testimonial from the Winner – Eli –

Blake may only shoot 52% on free throws but he has a great deadpan.

This was the game that I was destined to win.  I could have kissed Al when he told me we were playing knockout.  You see, basketball was never really my sport.  I hit puberty early (a solid 7 years before Rudy*) so as a 5’9″ 12 year old, I towered over the other kids and always played center.  By the time I was 14, I was about 6 feet flat.  I was taller than half of my teachers in high school but the other kids were starting to catch up, I was more of a power forward at that point.  At 16, I was 6’1″, done growing, and only a few inches taller than average and I started looking more like a guard.  The problem was, I never developed any guard skills.  All I could do was rebound, make the occasional layup, and shoot free throws at a pace that would make Blake Griffin smile.  That skill set never amounted to much in organized basketball, but it was perfect for knockout.

*Seriously, I started growth spurts and body changes around 4th grade, Rudy still had his heavenly singing voice through junior year of high school.

I first developed my skills on the playgrounds at summer camp.  We were too young to consistently hit the rim on a 10 foot hoop, but I learned how to rebound quickly and settle for a layup before the next guy had a chance to shoot.  I refined my skills in high school.  I still couldn’t hit free throws, but I learned to be ruthless with the other player’s ball and never hesitate to take the open shot.  Finally, I reached perfection as a camp counsellor for the YMCA.  Some would criticize by saying “what can you possibly learn by playing knockout with a bunch of 12 year olds for three hours a day?”  Clearly, I learned enough to beat these chumps.

I wish that I could recap the actual event for you but the whole event really blurred together for me.  I became one with the court.  We danced a magical ballet, the ball and I.  My movements were a perfectly choreographed dance. The sound of the ball dribbling off the court and swishing through the hoop* mingled with my opponents shrieks of agony and cries of disappointment to create a symphony that spurred my dance ever onward.  By the time it was over, only battered and beaten shells remained from what had once been my challengers.  They were left to scrap for second place whilst I basked in the thrill of victory.

*Or bricking off the backboard… whatever…

Testimonial from the Loser – Al –

Hi again.

It was no shock to me that my basketball skills had deteriorated significantly in the almost-decade since I last called upon them. I played decently the last game but sucked in the others. Maybe I should have instituted a few practice rounds…

I wasn’t expecting to win so the outcome was not surprising. Everyone had a good time and that’s what I wanted – six good friends reliving their youth.

Up Next -> The SATs – Event 10
Previously -> Physical Challenge – Event 8



  1. Clifford

    Al: Only losers talk about “having a good time” and “reliving their youth.” Nonetheless, I’m mostly disappointed there is no discussion of the huge scene we made at the park. That was the best part.

    • Alan

      I assume you’re being facetious since those where the root ideas of the Groomsman Games.

      As for the park, we were loud, obnoxious and swore loudly with kids and their parents playing nearby… in other words, it was like every occasion where we’re together in public.

      • Clifford

        I thought the point of the GGs was to compete to be Eli’s best man and to enjoy doing it… Maybe I had it backwards. Oops

      • Alan

        I had a great time celebrating Eli’s decent into marriage. Of course I wanted to win, but all of the events were fun and I did them with some of my best friends.

        Please tell me how much shame I should feel for not being as competitive as you, though.

  2. Rudolph

    “That was the best part” – Of course you thought it was. Cliff’s self-righteousness front and center for all to see, per usual

  3. Clifford

    Me thinking our screaming match was the “best part” of the entire event from the stand point of posting for entertainment is quite possibly voyeuristic- I want people to see me being ridiculous, or maybe even selfish- I don’t care about anyone but myself, but it is quite certainly NOT self-righteous- having an exaggerated awareness of my own piousness. Self-righteousness would be when I start a fight with a guy at a bar who is about to deploy for the first time and don’t feel bad about it because I’ve already deployed… Plus he was a marine lawyer and was about to sit on a big ass base for a year and then come home and tell all his boys about his time in the shit.
    Anyway, feel free to call me self-righteous at your leisure, I simply ask that you use it in the right context.

    • Rudolph

      You were 100% self-righteous and indignant when it came to arguing with Bart about blocking the ball. There’s absolutely no denying that. You’re always the tagline from a cop movie: “Plays by his own rules”. Only you jaw about it when we call you out for blatantly violating the only rule discussed before the tournament.

      Oh, Cliff the semi-pro, second team All-Egyptian point guard couldn’t have POSSIBLY violated the sanctity of knockout, could he?

      • Clifford

        I used the ball to block! You can do that! The phrase playground rules is an oxymoron to me. Play to win… Which Eli clearly did. The man was a MACHINE.

      • Elijah

        Rudy, you’re really going to call out Cliff for “playing by his own rules?” I’ve seen you try to cheat at every game we’ve ever played. You never abide by any preset rules until someone calls you out on it. Granted Cliff is pretty much in the same boat. I guess when the pot calls the kettle black, he is right in the end.

        And, yes, I was a machine.

      • Rudolph

        Yeah not consciously. I just don’t read the fine print. I’m expressive. I like to pave my own path until somebody tells me I can’t. And then I make it my goal to break down their idiotic, fun-squashing structure so that my own wants and desires can be furthered to the greatest extent. Big difference.

  4. Clifford

    I think at some point I need to recount a certain 1v1 match played at the YMCA youth center, which we were actually too old to be playing at. It’s up there in my top five Eli moments list.

  5. Pingback: Groomsman Games Event #8: Physical Challenge « The PO Life
  6. Pingback: Groomsman Games Event #10: The SATs « The PO Life
  7. Pingback: Groomsman Games: Recap « The PO Life

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