kids The Story Behind The Circle Game Every Kid Played In Elementary School  

Donn Saylor
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Ever since it was popularized in schoolyards back in the 1980s, many people have wondered about the story behind the Circle Game. Just where did the Circle Game come from? Who invented it? And, perhaps most bafflingly, why is it so popular?

For those not in the know, the Circle Game is quite simple. One person makes a small circle with their thumb and index finger. They then try to get another person to look at the circle they've made without overtly drawing attention to it. If they are successful, they get to punch the person who has looked, usually either in the arm or shoulder (and in a playful way - the Circle Game isn't meant to be violent).

Sound silly? It is. No one would argue with you on that. But the history and facts surrounding the Circle Game are fascinating to say the least. The background of this phenomenon is shrouded in mystery - much like that 'S' you drew in elementary school - and conflicting stories and reports abound.

Let's explore a few of them below. Read on to learn some things you didn't know about the Circle Game.

It Was Supposedly Invented In The '80s…

It Was Supposedly Invented In ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Story Behind The Circle Game Every Kid Played In Elementary School
Photo: Hm2k/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most popular theories about the Circle Game's origin says that a man named Matt Nelson of New Bremen, OH, invented the game back in the early '80s. Nelson claims he is indeed the mastermind behind this mysterious pastime, which he says he invented in elementary school. "My whole life I've just been inventing cool things like that," Nelson told Vice. While it's debatable whether the Circle Game has ever been "a cool thing," Nelson is pretty adamant he's the inventor.

Or Maybe It Was Invented In The '90s…

Another theory suggests an elementary school student named Joey Bridger of Toronto, Canada, invented the Circle Game in 1995. This possibility is mentioned by Wikipedia, but there doesn't appear to be any evidence backing up the claim. Joey, if you're out there, step out of the shadows and reveal yourself!

Did Jesus Play The Circle Game?

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Photo:  Finger Hole Memes/Facebook

Doubtful, but an interesting avenue to explore. A popular meme shows a statue of an angel, apparently playing the Circle Game with Jesus. If this artist's rendering of a biblical scene is in any way accurate, then the Circle Game is much older than anyone previously thought. And, to be fair, from the look of that Jesus statue, he's about to roll his eyes any minute at that angel's impertinence.

Despite Rumors, No One Has Been Arrested For Playing The Circle Game

According to legend, someone was once arrested for playing the Circle Game with the cops. The story goes that a man in Chicago was pulled over by police, and when they asked for his license and registration, he made the telltale circle with his thumb and index finger. Unfortunately, the cops weren't in the mood to play schoolyard games, and the man was put in the pokey. While an entertaining story, it is in no way true.