Friends play elaborate game of tag for 23 years

By Dave Meddows, ninemsn
12:09pm January 30, 2013
Tag players Bill Akers, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis and Mike Konesky.
Tag players Bill Akers, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis and Mike Konesky.

The game of 'tip' isn't a pastime usually associated with grown men, but a group of friends in the US have taken the childhood game to another level.

Determined to continue the ultra-competitive chase they started in high school, the men - who include a senior executive, a teacher and even a priest amongst their ranks - have been playing a more intense form of the game now for 23 years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The hunting ground has moved well beyond the confines of the school yard and is now anywhere and everywhere.

For one month a year no player is safe and nothing is off limits as the player who has just spent the past 11 months as 'it' goes on the attack to get rid of the label.

The men, who slowly started to spread out across the country from their Spokane, Washington home, drew up a set of rules - known as the 'Tag Participation Agreement' - to ensure the game continued.

The game would only be active during the month of February and the player tagged last at the end of the month would hold the unenviable title of 'it' for the following year.

"You're like a deer or elk in hunting season," teacher Joe Tombari told the Wall Street Journal.

The continuation of the game was a relief for Mr Tombari who had been the last tagged when they finished school in 1982.

"The whole thing was quite devastating," he said. "I was 'It' for life."

The men take the game very seriously and employ tactics to ward off attacks from the current 'It' player. Staff at a player’s workplace are instructed not to allow other players into their offices.

One player even travels to Hawaii to avoid being tagged.

Ridding yourself of the ‘It’ tag often involves travelling cross-country and implementing elaborate plans to beat the defences put in place by other players.

In one year, priest Sean Raftis travelled to California and hid in a car boot to tag Mr Tombari. His wife got such a shock from Father Raftis she fell and tore the ligaments in her knee.

Another, Mike Konesky, broke into the home of marketing executive Brian Dennehy after midnight.

Mr Konesky snuck into the bedroom and tagged him, despite screams from his now-wife to run.

Mr Konesky is the current ‘It’ and is planning his attack for February.

Father Raftis, who has avoided being tagged for a number of years, knows he’s sure to be a target this year.

"Once I step foot outside the rectory, all bets are off," he said.

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