Extreme Labor Day lawn games

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So you’ve decided to host a barbeque this Labor Day. You’ve prepped the grill, bought the meat, and rolled out the keg. But do you get the feeling that something’s still missing?

Your hardworking friends get a mere handful of paid days off each year, and it’s up to you to make sure they have a good time. Luckily, you can always fall back on lawn games. A quality game can occupy guests for hours, and serve as an effective weapon against awkward lapses in conversation. However, to really take your barbeque to the next level, you might want to include not just any lawn game, but an extreme one.

While many of us might think of an “extreme sport” as one requiring a combination of athletic ability and lapsed concern for personal safety (rock climbing, snowboarding, wingsuit flying), the tag “extreme” is now being added to slews of quasi-athletic pastimes. Lawn games are no exception. Some of these are inherently extreme, while others are classic lawn games that have gotten an extreme makeover. So, without further ado, here are Movoto Real Estate’s tips for Extreme-ifying your Labor Day barbeque.

Extreme Bocce Ball

Bocce ball is a time-honored sport that dates back to the ancient Romans, and can be played on grass, sand, or even asphalt. Bocce has recently become popular with a new generation of players, prompting New York City to revamp its dilapidated bocce courts. So how might you make this quintessential old man’s game more extreme?

It turns out that Extreme Bocce Ball has already been invented. This site even boasts of specially designed bocce balls that withstand tough playing conditions. Extreme bocce involves taking the game outside of the traditional 90-foot court. The jack, or target ball that others will aim to throw their balls close to, can be cast out much farther than in traditional bocce.

While regular bocce is played on a court free from debris, extreme bocce players seek increased challenges presented by the terrain itself, and by obstacles. Extreme bocce players might hold their game in a parking lot or other place not meant for bocce, and play until someone tells them to leave. Copious beer drinking is also encouraged.

Extreme Croquet

Traditional croquet requires a decently sized (and reasonably smooth) lawn. The genteel game has a long history at backyard barbeques. It requires skill, patience, and a measure of upper arm strength. This is a civilized game, and perhaps not ideal for drunken people who need to learn the rules from scratch.

That’s where extreme croquet comes in. The concept of extreme croquet dates back to at least the 1920s. The sport’s first official American club, the Connecticut eXtreme Croquet Society, was founded in 1983. In extreme croquet, there is no such thing as “out of bounds.” Players may hit the ball with any part of the mallet, including the handle. In these conditions, it is common to break equipment -- even the balls. This has led to specialized equipment; the CECS has designed a wedge-shaped mallet made of Polycarbonate.

Extreme Slip ‘n Slide

Slip ‘n Slides provide a great way for guests to cool off. The Slip ‘n Slide was introduced over 50 years ago by a company called Wham-O. The manufacturer warns that the toy is only for kids, and that adults risk spinal cord injury and death.

But are you really going to let that stop you?

With the right backyard topology, Slip ‘n Sliding can easily become an extreme sport. Say you have a huge hill in your backyard. You might need to combine several Slip ‘n Slides, or make your own out of plastic sheeting, to create a long runway down which your barbeque guests can fling themselves. Use the biggest hose you’ve got to create the water stream down the middle of the tarp, and add dish soap periodically to keep the surface slick.

Extreme Lawn Mower Racing

Why not kill two birds with one stone and get your party guests to mow your lawn for you? Just kidding; Lawn Mower Racing is a real sport, but the riding mowers used by competitors have their mowing parts removed. It’s like a very slow, DIY version of NASCAR. Lawn mower races are held in 37 states. The sport even has its own organization, the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association, a governing body that’s been around since 1992. You can read the official rules here.

Lawn Darts (Jarts)

This is the only item on our list that doesn’t need “extreme” in front of it. Lawn darts, or “jarts,” were banned in the US in 1988 because they were incredibly dangerous (read: extreme). The jarts themselves were foot long, weighted, spiked projectiles. The goal was to throw them so they’d land inside hoops laid on the ground.

Though they claimed many lives during their heyday in the ‘80s, jarts are still used by a contingent of hardcore enthusiasts, who hold a jart tournament every year. There are also new, plastic versions that are far safer (and less extreme) than the original, though reviewers complain that these jarts aren’t heavy enough to properly stab into the ground.

Who Will Be Left Standing?

So which of these extreme games is the best fit for your guests? It depends a lot on the natural habitat surrounding your backyard. If you have a big, flat, grassy lawn, jarts would work well. If you have lots of natural obstacles like streams and trees, extreme bocce or extreme croquet would be a good fit. If you have a big hill, go for the extreme Slip ‘n Slide. And if you have a big patch of dirt, some hay bales, and several spare riding mowers sitting in your barn, extreme lawn mower racing could be for you.

One thing is sure: your party guests won’t soon forget this year’s Labor Day barbeque. The memories may fade, but the scars will last a lifetime.


Kate Folk is a writer for Movoto. She's from Iowa and now lives in San Francisco. She also writes fiction.

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