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On a recent visit to the University of Colorado, Boulder, I saw some students playing a sport I've never seen before. I'll do my best to describe it.

On a grass field, a rectangle is marked out with string, about 5m by 10m. Inside the rectangle are six balls, about 20 cm in diameter, three red and three blue, placed at specific locations. There are four players, who start out standing outside the rectangle: three at one of the short edges (marked X below) and one at a long edge (marked O). Here is a very crude drawing. enter image description here

In addition to the four players, there is a fifth person who seems to be a judge.

The play of the game appears to go as follows. The judge calls "Go", and the X players try to run into the rectangle, pick up a ball, and return to their original position. When one of them picks up a ball, the O player runs into the rectangle and tries to tag him.

There seems to be some rules or strategy governing how they do this. The X players can wait for a favorable moment to make their attempt. Sometimes they chose a red ball and sometimes a blue ball; I couldn't tell what was the significance of this choice. Also, sometimes an X player would get a ball and the O player would apparently decide not to try to chase him. It also wasn't clear whether the X players were cooperating or competing with each other.

I saw at least two simultaneous games going on, so I don't think it was just random fooling around. The players seemed to know what they were doing.

What is this game called? Does it have formal rules, and if so, where can I find them?

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I think I used to play something vaguely similar to this when I was in cubs/scouts. We called it "Dog and Bone". – Bogdanovist Aug 1 '13 at 5:37
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@NateEldredge Refer here... – ᴍᴀsᴛᴇʀᴍɪɴᴅ_ᴇᴅ Aug 2 '13 at 0:38
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identify-this-sport would not be without precedent, compare with story-identification on scfi.SE. However, in practice there are far fewer sports than scifi/fantasy stories, so this isn't going to come up very often so probably doesn't merit a tag. If we do start to get more such questions then making such a tag would I think be warranted. That's in line with waxeagle's response in the meta thread edmastermind29 refers to. – Bogdanovist Aug 5 '13 at 2:13
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@Bogdanovist I'd argue that identify-this-sport is never going to be a good tag. It's a meta tag in that it identifies the type of question not the context of the question – wax eagle Aug 13 '13 at 13:20
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I reached out to the Director of Intramural Sports at the University of Colorado Boulder. She spent two weeks interviewing students and was unable to determine the name of this game or who was playing it. – Chrismas007 Dec 6 '14 at 1:49

This sounds like a variant of Boccia, or at least a game being played using Boccia equipment on a Boccia field-of-play.

Boccia Rules (link)

Simple Boccia Rules (link)

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It didn't really seem like that. Boccia is a bowling-type game, where the players throw or roll the balls toward a target. Nobody ever threw or rolled a ball in this game, as far as I saw; they picked them up and ran with them. It was definitely a contact sport. – Nate Eldredge Nov 30 '15 at 16:28
    
Yep - which is why the answer stated "at least a game being played using Boccia equipment on a Boccia field-of-play." – Euan M Nov 30 '15 at 16:31
    
It seems that the Boccia field of play is invariably a hard flat surface; this sport was played on grass. The balls could have been the same, maybe. – Nate Eldredge Nov 30 '15 at 16:33
    
[Association] football is played in formal competition on grass surfaces. I spent most of my childhood playing on hard surfaces. Sometimes even flat hard surfaces. People often extemporise. Basketball started off with extemporised goals; snooker was originally an extemporised form of billiards; etc. – Euan M Nov 30 '15 at 16:36

This sounds like one of the many variations of Dodgeball most probably the "Prisonball" version even though it is difficult to tell form the rough description you gave.

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Possible, but the unifying feature of all variants of Dodgeball I've seen is that players throw a ball at each other. My memory may be getting cloudy now that it's been a couple of years, but I'm pretty sure that the players of this game never threw the balls at all. – Nate Eldredge Nov 20 '15 at 7:43

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