Lonely Planet Writer

The playground game Tag is now a professional sport, and this summer you can try it

Whether you called it tag, touch, tig or tick, the childhood chasing game is a staple in schoolyards around the world. But at some point, most of us stop chasing our friends for amusement and surrender to the mediocrity of adult life.

Now adults can relive their childhood with a grown up game of Tag
Children playing ‘He’, ‘Tig’, ‘Tag’ or ‘It’ on a London street, April 1950. Original Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Well, get ready to let your inner-child loose, as a venue offering the chance to play an evolved version of the beloved game is coming to London.

It may surprise some readers to learn that competitive tag is already an established thing. Known officially as World Chase Tag, the sport has a professional league and hosts international tournaments around the world, where two competitors, one the Evader and the other the Tagger, face off in a 12m square, obstacle-littered arena known as the Quad.

But this summer non-professional Taggers will be able to step into the Quad for the first time when a pop-up Chase Tag venue arrives in London. During 26 and 27 June, York Hall Leisure Centre in Bethnal Green will be transformed into a Chase Tag arena. Where visitors will be able to play the game with friends, under the watchful eyes of World Chase Tag instructors.

Tag set to become a professional sport
Two children playing tag in Trinity Square Gardens opposite the Tower of London on 13 March 2019 in London, England. Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images

The grown-up version of the game resembles a blend of touch rugby and parkour. Each chase lasts up to 20 seconds, with the Evader attempting to avoid being touched by the Tagger, ducking and diving over obstacles like tables and poles in the process. If the Evader is caught, by being tagged or stepping out of bounds, they lose the chase and are replaced by a teammate in the next round. In essence, the old playground lore of ‘winner stays on’.

Members of the public can sign up for 30-minute slots during one of the two days. Tickets are on sale now. If you can’t make it to this one, keep an eye on the organisation’s official website, as they plan to bring the sport to more cities soon.