A game of Calvinball

Calvinball is a sport invented by Calvin and Hobbes in which you make the rules up as you go along. The game involves sports equipment such as wickets, mallets, and various balls, as well as a volleyball (the "Calvinball").

The one permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can't play it the same way twice (for example, in one game of Calvinball, the goal was to capture your opponent's flag, whereas in a different game of Calvinball, the goal was to score points by hitting badminton shuttlecocks against trees using a croquet mallet). As such, a player may not make any plays they made in a previous game, and any new rule made up by any player must be accepted. Black masks must be work at all times during a game of Calvinball; these are not to be questioned.


Calvin created the game when he became tired of organized sports. Although the first depicted game of Calvinball followed Calvin's failure to join the baseball team [1], the game appears here in such a complete form that it is likely Calvin and Hobbes had been playing the game for some time before then.

The only hint at the true origin of the game comes from the last Calvinball strip, in which a game of football quickly changes into a game of Calvinball. Calvin remarks, "Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball," suggesting that a similar scenario led directly to the creation of the sport.


Although all games of Calvinball are different, many of them seem to involve a volleyball (the "Calvinball"), masks, and pickets with numbers printed on them.

Key features of various games have included (in approximate order of appearance):

  • Wickets (referred to as "time-fracture wickets" in one game)
  • Soccer balls
  • Flags
  • Masks
  • Small signs with numbers
  • Songs
  • Zones/Sectors
  • The Opposite Pole
  • The No-Song Zone
  • The "Very Sorry Song" (see below)
  • The "Bonus Box"
  • Croquet mallets
  • Badminton shuttlecocks
  • "Vortex spots"
  • The "Boomerang Zone"
  • The Calvinball
  • Trees (as goalposts)
  • Buckets
  • Poems
  • Sacks
  • Odd methods of keeping score (Q to 12, Oogy to Boogy, etc.)
  • The Calvinball theme song (see below)
  • Decrees
  • Water balloons
  • Hobby horses
  • The "Pernicious Poem Place"
  • Bag Flag Zones
  • The Secret Base
  • Slow Motion
  • The Perimeter of Wisdom
  • The Corollary Zone
  • The Baby Sitter Flag

Calvinball theme song

The Calvinball theme song made its only appearance in the penultimate Calvinball storyline. Calvin sings the lead while Hobbes sings backup with "Rumma-Tum-Tums."

"Other kids' games are all such a bore!
They've gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calvinball is better by far!
It's never the same! It's always bizarre!
You don't need a team or a referee!
You know that it's great, 'cause it's named after me!"

After that, Calvin tells Rosalyn to "feel free to harmonize with Hobbes on the 'rumma-tum-tums'".


No sport is less organized than Calvinball.


Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball.


The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can never play it the same way twice!


The score is oogy to boogy.


The score is still Q to 12!


The Pernicious Poem

This poem must be recited to another person (it appears to not matter whether or not the other person is a player). It is the penalty for touching the Pernicious Poem Place.

"This is a poem! Please do what you're told! And here is a bucket of water, ice-cold! Please take this water, and dump it on me! Don't hesitate, do it A.S.A.P.!"

The "Very Sorry Song"

In one strip, during a game of Calvinball, Calvin "[steals]" Hobbes' flag, and Hobbes hits him with the Calvinball. As a result, Calvin is required to put the flag back and sing the Very Sorry Song.

The "Very Sorry Song" has two parts, one sung by the player who did the action (the "offender"), and one sung by the player whom the action was done to (the "victim").

Offender Victim
"Here's the 'Very Sorry Songg.' Won't you help and sing alongg?" "Bum bum bum"
"I blew it!" "He's sorry!"
"I knew it!" "So sorry!"
"I'm very very sorry that I took your precious flaaggg!" "Just don't do it any more, you scurvy scalawaaggg!"


  • Bill Watterson once said, "People have asked how to play Calvinball. It's pretty simple: you make up the rules as you go."
  • In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are seen playing an obscure combination of croquet, cricket, and baseball. It is unknown if this is a variation of Calvinball, a predecessor to Calvinball, or just another (albeit obscure) game.
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