Red Rover (Game)

My informant is Betsy, a 5’3, white female. Betsy is 26 years old and grew up in Los Angeles her whole life. She is of Irish and Eastern European descent.

Betsy describes a game she used to play as a kid.

Betsy: “Did you ever play Red Rover?”

No, what’s that?

Betsy: “Ok it’s a game I used to play when I was younger during recess. There are two teams and each team forms a big line and you all hold hands with the people on your team and you face the other team who is also holding hands. Then when it’s your teams turn you chant.. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send us…” and you pick someone from their team. So if the other team chose me they would say “Red Rover, Red Rover, send us Betsy!” and then I would leave my team and try and break the other teams chain.”

What do you mean break their chain? How would you do that?

Betsy: “Well you would have to run at them as fast as you can and try and bust through their arms when they’re holding each others hands”

What happens when you break it?

Betsy: “Well if you break the chain then the person who broke is now on your team so whoever breaks the line has to go to the other team”

What if you don’t break it?

Betsy: “Umm..I’m pretty sure if you don’t break it then you just have to join the other team”

So how do you win?

Betsy: “I guess it’s whoever has the most players, the game always ended when recess did so whatever team has the most people at the end wins”

When did you start playing this game and how did you first learn about it?

Betsy: “I would say I started playing a lot around second grade and definitely never played after fifth. As to who started it…I don’t know it was just a game that we all know everyone played it we probably learned it from the kids above us. I remember seeing it in a movie called “Now and Then” and I was obsessed with it so maybe that’s where.

What does this game mean to you, is there any significance?

Betsy: “I wouldn’t say that this game means anything to me… I don’t know it just reminds me of my childhood and brings back memories of when we all used to play Red Rover but I wouldn’t say it holds a special meaning it was just a game.


This is a really good example of folklore as a game because it was something Betsy played when she was younger and through the action of playing the game spread the folklore to anyone who saw or partook. Going to school, children fill their recess with fun games to pass the time not realizing it is a form of folklore. I, myself, had never heard or played this game and it was interesting to listen to someone look back on such a small part of their life and have it apply to my project. This game could have been ingrained into the school where all students who went to that same school eventually played Red Rover or in Betsy’s case she may have brought it to her school unknowingly just by watching the movie. However, the fact that it was in the movie