Playing in the Streets

By Indykids Staff

Mick Greene used to play street games as a kid growing up in Queens. He founded the website to document and celebrate the experience of urban play. Mick talked with IndyKids about the games he loves.

What was your favorite street game when you were a kid?

We played all kinds of games: stoopball, stickball and boxball.

How old are street games?

A lot of the games on our website are from the 1930s and are played with a rubber ball. If they’re not played with a rubber ball, the game could be older. Hopscotch is ancient and it’s played throughout the world.

Who made up the games?

Kids evolved the games. And the rules are made to be adapted to the environment where you play. For example, punchball is a game with bases, like baseball or kickball. Imagine you have a tennis ball. You throw it up a couple feet and you punch it. If you’re in a park you can play with 10 people. But if you have five people you play with half the field. If you have a kid who’s better than everyone else, you can also change the rules.

How organized are street games today?

Handball and stickball are organized. They have tournaments and leagues. Some are sponsored by the Parks Department. There are jump-rope competitions too.

How is play today different from when you were a kid?

Street games are great for kids, but they’re not part of the culture anymore. When I was a kid in the 1960s, and until about the ’70s there were less cars in the street and less structured activities. Today parents feel less comfortable about kids being unsupervised. There are more TV and computer games. When I was a kid, we came home from school, went outside and played with friends. That’s what you did. I actually think it was more fun.

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