To be the King, you generally must have already won something. In the times before ours, Kings were only Kings for as long as they could defend their kingdom. If defeated, they were usually dead, which meant they were no longer the King. Their victor was the new King, and it would be his Kingdom until he too fell on a battle field or sipped a poisoned cup. To be the King is to be the victor, and if we're talking about Kings then we must be talking about diving boards and if we're talking about Kings and diving boards then we have no other choice but to discuss the sport of Kings, the blending of the two: King Of The Board.
You could have forgiven me had I said "King Of The Diving Board", but you could only do so if you've never fully engaged in the battlefield that is a wet, narrow strip of material where the winner gets to stay and be crowned King, and the loser falls to his death. Not his death, but at least into the water, which might as well be death if you are 14 and there are girls of a similar age watching on the pier. But we're going on and on and we're getting ahead of ourselves.
A diving board is a wonderful, dangerous thing. Like airplanes and large knives. In the right hands and for the right purposes, they can be useful and productive. They can launch a bouncing swimmer into the most graceful of dives. They can be used by two swimmers at once, with one following in lockstep behind the other, and the resulting double bounce can propel that dive higher and wider, further and farther, and it can be wonderful. While you can dive from piers and you can flip from piers, you cannot double bounce off of a pier and you cannot do an inward dive off of a pier, unless you're Greg Louganis, and he had a hard enough time jumping off a giant diving board let along just a simple wooden pier.
Old men and women can jump from diving boards, and this is nice for them. They can jump higher than they remember, and when they do this in front of their grandchildren, they can be made to feel young again, if only for the fleeting moment during their propelled soar. But this isn't what diving boards were meant for. They weren't meant to jump on and dive from, and they weren't meant to stick 40 feet above the surface of some deep pool so guys like Greg could jump from them and occasionally smack their heads on them. They were meant for battle. For Kings to defend as sure as they'd defend their own moat circled castle. Diving boards aren't for laughing, they're for grappling and for throwing and for scratching and scraping. Diving boards are for fighting.
To begin, there must already be a sitting King. He will be standing, not sitting, at the end of the board facing the pier. This is where his challengers will line up to take their turn at dethroning him. The King must assume the fighting position, and he must not defend his narrow, slippery throne. The would be King will rush at the presiding King, and he will either bull rush him and push him off, or he will approach slowly, like the one Cobra Kai kid did the Karate Kid. Arms will reach out and the two will fight for control of the others forearm or shoulder, and there will be pushing and scratching. Blood will likely be drawn. Low blows will happen, though they will rarely happen with admitted purpose, and when the melee is over, one or both of the competitors will fall into the water below. If they both fall, the next challenger in line will assume the roll of King.
These are the general rules of the game. Less rules, more procedure, as there are very few rules here. Kicking is generally not allowed. Pulling hair won't be tolerated either. And when some big challenger rushes the King and forces both of them off at the same time, this is allowed but it is also frowned upon. The game can take as long as it must, as there is no real way to declare a winner. Winners only result when one King is an intimidating opponent, and several rounds of challengers have come and been thrown into the water. When a King is deemed to be unbeatable, he has won.
I say "he" in this as if it is only a game meant for boys and men. This is not the case. Females can do battle as well, but there are more rules when they are involved because of the off limits areas. This hands off approach puts girls and women at an advantage, and if they are declared King, if only for a challenger or two, then they are still the King and not the Queen. If you happen upon a group of youth playing King Of The Board and a girl is the King and they declare her the Queen, then you must walk over to them and set them straight. There are no Queens in King of the Board, only any-gender Kings. These rules must be enforced!
Thankfully, if King of the Board is on your summer agenda, there are plenty of associations that will indulge your impulse to crush your opponent and sling him (or her) to their watery deaths. The Loch Vista Club is diving board approved, as is Oakwood Estates. The Harvard Club has a board, and Belvidere Park has a giant platform that my grandpa probably scaled and jumped from in the 1920s. Private lakefront owners have diving boards, but these are not the sort of boards we should celebrate. These are the sort that are typically assigned to pool duty- they are small and wimpy and embarrassing. Giant diving boards are the boards we want, and if you want to truly be King for a day or a moment, stand on the end of it for long enough and someone will attempt to defeat you.