(Brooklyn, NY) Dozens of young adults from around the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods in Brooklyn staged an indignant protest against a recent ban on an adult “Duck Duck Goose” league on Saturday in McCarren Park.
The protests, coordinated by the league known as Duck Duck Brooklyn, sought to gain the attention of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, among others, in the hopes that the New York Parks and Recreations Department might lift the ban.
“This is just another sign of the man putting us down,” 24-year-old Caleb Todd, a freelance graphic designer and the commissioner of the Duck Duck Goose league, shouted into a megaphone to a smattering of applause and some half-interested cheers. “We started this league so young people in Brooklyn could get together, get exercise, and meet other cool young people in Brooklyn. What is the city afraid of, man?”
Another speaker, local musician Megan Mitchell, told the crowd that if the ban were maintained, then New York was no better than other places such as Terra Haute, Indiana, the city where she was born and raised before escaping to the Brooklyn after college. “We can’t let them take this away from us,” she pleaded. “New York is like the only place where you can play cool games like this and be with people just like you. They’re trying to turn it into suburbia. Well I lived in suburbia, and let me tell you: It sucks hard. The Urban Outfitters in Bloomington is fucking awful.”
Protesters at the event were peaceful, bordering on bored and lackadaisical, and many of them stared into their smartphones or smoked cigarettes while chatting with their friends. Meanwhile, protest organizers continued their speeches atop a piece of playground equipment they had reserved for the day, to the chagrin of local parents and their young children.
Cyrus Koziar, owner of Sack Lunch, a local purveyor of “artisanal Rocky Mountain Oysters,” told reporters he thought “the protests are pretty cool. I’m not that into DDG or anything. I think it’s a cool game to watch sometimes, whatever. It’s just cool to come out and meet other young people like this, people who are trying to change things and keep Williamsburg the way it is.”
The ban, instituted on May 24, came as the result of “several unfortunate incidents,” according to New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
“Look, I think Duck Duck Goose, or Duck Duck Gray Duck as it’s sometimes known, is a wonderful game,” Benepe told Great Caesar’s Ghost. “I played it myself as a child. However, the DDG league in McCarren Park has demonstrated it has no respect for the game, the park, or other parkgoers.”
Benepe cited a recent episode in which two adult DDG players, Regan Patrick and Cindy Yoon, got carried away by a chase and “ran all over the park, through tavern league baseball games, family picnics, and a school field trip.” Benepe said that when Patrick finally did tag Yoon, he tackled her, and the two giggled, kissed and rolled in the dirt for several minutes in front of a group of kindergartners.
“That’s not what Duck Duck Goose is all about,” Benepe said sternly. Other reported incidents have involved players spraying shaken Pabst beer on one another and others, a scuffle with a local kickball league over park space, and the male players wearing shorts “way, way, way, wayyyy, too short. We’re talking Larry Bird, Bernard King, Sidney Moncrief short, whatever. Just not NYC Parks regulation.”
Benepe summarized, “This is why we’ve banned the game. Among adults. This is where we draw the line.”
For Duck Duck Brooklyn, the playoffs will have to wait. As the rally ended and attendees gathered their things, Todd was stoic about the whole tempest in a teapot. “We’ll get this overturned,” he predicted. “Look at history. Look at gay marriage. That’s like, legal in a lot of places. So, we can do this. I’ll come to this park every day if I have to. Or maybe some of my bros will pick up the slack and be here.” Todd also said he’d be handing out fliers at Trash Bar, a local watering hole, “to educate our neighbors about this injustice. You know, first they take away DDG, then it’s kickball. Pretty soon it’s baseball and basketball. I bet some of the Hasidics [Jews] who live nearby would be real interested to hear about this bullshit. Real interested.”
According to New York City Parks historian Hannibal Leutwiler, this is the first instance of an adult league sport being banned in city parks since 1971, when Mayor John Lindsay came down hard on a group of young men and women participating in a bizarre and mostly naked version of Ring Around The Rosey.