I wonder if baseball players in sandlot games have ever made up teams by throwing their gloves in a big pile and then randomly separated them into two piles? Football? Hmmm…wouldn’t work there given the lack of a common piece of equipment (assuming helmets aren’t regularly worn for pickup games). Hoops? Nope, not there either. Soccer? Nada.
In hockey though, it is a time-honoured technique to throw all the sticks of those wanting to join a game into a big pile and then split this into two piles. This was never a completely arbitrary approach because there were times when the stick-separator was quite aware that the heavily taped Koho 201 was owned by a ringer or his best buddy, or that the beat up toothpick was the weapon of choice of the skinny, slightly-crazed kid who was always better to have on your team, than to be playing against.
However, it did have the benefit of transparency. It was tough to rig such a vote because everyone at the dance was basically standing there watching the proceedings to see where their stick landed. If the separator tried to put all the mylec super blades and short shafted sticks on one side, and all the rest on the other, there would be hell to pay for this was stacking one team, pure and simple.
However, this was, and still is, a truly great way to builds team in a hurry. I remember many days at outdoor rinks on cold winter days or nights where we used this approach. I remember doing it several times over the course of a few hours because inevitably, players would come and go during the course of a pickup game and teams would get unbalanced. When things got way out of wack, the hockey players’ collective conscience would kick in, and all the sticks would end up in a pile again for the process to repeat itself.