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Knockout, Gotcha, Lightning: What do you call this basketball game?

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It depends on where you're from!

On Thursday, some Kansas football players wheeled a basketball hoop onto the field and played a classic playground game. You're probably familiar with these rules:

Everyone lines up single-file, the two people at the front of the line each get one basketball, and those two try to make a jump shot (or a subsequent layup) before the person with the other basketball does so. If you make your shot fast enough, you hand your ball to the person in front of the line and go to the back. If you can't make a shot before the person behind you makes one, you are out, and eventually everyone but a single winner is eliminated.

I have always called this game "Knockout." I have never even considered that it could have another name. But as soon as the topic came up among my SB Nation friends, two of us from Michigan expressed that they'd never heard the game called anything but "Lightning." I was so surprised and excited I threw up.

We've demonstrated before that regional differences appear in playground basketball terminology, so I looked up some other (apparently) common names for this game and did a little survey.

Basically: What do you call this game, and where did you learn to call it that? Here's the data -- "other" answers excluded -- from around 770 respondents, color-coded and mapped around the world. It's not scientific, but I think we're onto something!

View A game by many names! in a full screen map

And here's data by volume only:


Here's what jumps out:

- "Knockout" is most popular. It especially dominates the East Coast of the United States and most of our abroad responses. HOWEVER!

- As the SB Nation revelation predicted, there are some strong regional exceptions, the first of which is a hotbed of "Lightning" centered around the Midwest -- Michigan in particular.


Look at all that yellow atop a sea of red: A large, almost perfectly demarcated region of people all calling the game "Lightning." Who knew!? There's also a pocket of "Lightning" people in Utah!

- The Pacific Northwest and Canada seem to be the biggest fans of "Bumpout" and "Bump." I also had one Oregon person tell me people around there call the game "Crunch."

- Southerners don't use "Gotcha" exclusively, but they were the only ones to use it.

- Got someone from Pennsylvania who called it "Crash."

- One person in Santa Rosa, Calif. called it "Thunder." One from North Hollywood, Calif. called it "Snake." "Speed" in St. George, Utah.

- I wish more people from England responded, because we got one "Killer" and one "2-Ball Killer" from there. That might be a thing!

- Southern California and Arizona are basically the U.N. of naming this game.

The upshot is this: The game goes by more than one name. If you call it "Knockout," you are in the majority, but not unanimously. If you call the game something else, it might be because of where you learned it! Sports!

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