Ball is the universal toy!

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Monday night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart took the National Toy Hall of Fame to task for waiting so long to induct the ball into its hallowed ranks. In this segment, he rails against the institution for selecting “stick” and “cardboard box” years before the ancient and essential “ball.”

I like that the National Toy Hall of Fame is celebrating simple playthings, not just the latest craze coming out of Mattel and Hasbro’s factories. The truth is that the most stimulating toys are the most open-ended, a point I raised a few months ago in a post on aesthetics of play, and the ball is the most infinitely malleable toy out there. Having a ball means having a game, whether you’re bouncing it against a wall or playing with dozens of others on teams. Surely everyone has a childhood memory of a game they played with a ball where the rules were some imaginative variation on an existing game. My best friend Annie and I invented “pancake-turner ball,” which was a cross between keep-up and tennis played with two spatulas and an over-sized tennis ball.

Like Stewart, it strikes me as ridiculous that it could take so long (11 years!) to get ball into the Toy Hall of Fame. So, congrats Ball, on your long-overdue honor!

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