Skip to comments.Seesaws: A Vanishing Part Of America
Posted on 06/17/2011 4:36:33 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
Seesaws: A Vanishing Part of America
By Bob Dorigo JonesCan you remember the last time you saw a seesaw? Im talking about an old fashioned teeter-totter the kind without springs.
If you are under the age of thirty, its very possible that youve never seen one. Although they were once a staple of playgrounds around the country, the lawsuit explosion in America prompted school officials and park superintendents to start removing them in the 1970s and 1980s.
Philip Howard, a prominent attorney and the author of the bestselling book, The Death of Common Sense, wrote this about seesaws eight years ago: Visit a playground and look for a seesaw. They are rapidly disappearing, going the way of merry-go-rounds, diving boards, and other joys of childhood.
The problem wasnt that every school and community was being sued. No, it was simply the likelihood that they would be sued in courts that were increasingly turning a blind eye to personal responsibility that motivated schools and communities to rip the teeter-totters out of the ground and install less risky things for kids to play on. The real possibility of being sued was enough to cause insurance rates to skyrocket, so kids had to say good-bye to their seesaws.
Books have been written about how playgrounds dont challenge kids enough nowadays. Playgrounds often dont often allow kids to take the kind of small risks help them grow and develop. Not that seesaws were a huge challenge, but they did at least require a little leg power and balance. Todays spring-loaded seesaws require very little effort to move, and some experts believe such changes are one of the reasons childhood obesity has become such a problem in America.
Despite the virtual extinction of the old-fashioned seesaw, there is at least one still around. In my most recent Lets Be Fair radio commentary, I mention that I actually found one! However, it isnt in a public park. It is located in one of the few places in America where lawsuits are as uncommon as seesaws are in the rest of the country an Amish community. Makes sense, huh? The photo above was taken at a school in an Amish enclave in northern Michigan. The hitching post for horses is visible in the foreground.
Do you have a story to share about how life in America is changing because of the ever-present threat of litigation? If so, Id like to hear it.
Increase in lawsuits, decrease in seesaws. Simple math. ;-)
First thing that came to mind....
BIll Cosby - Playground
“.....and then came....the ‘Monkey Bars’............”
I think seesaws along with corndogs deserve to be consigned to the dust heap of history along with petrocks.
Some of the best childhood injuries came from see saws.
And who can forget the asphalt playgrounds?
The same can be said for diving boards. The scarcity of diving boards in this country probably has something to do with the fact that the US has not won a gold medal in Olympic diving events since 1996. For decades, America was highly competitive, if not dominant in this sport.
The article makes a point that the absence of physically risky activity might be the reason for obesity in children.
That’s possible. As a child I walked everywhere until I received a bicycle for my birthday (12th). We really did walk to school, to the beach and climbed trees in the woods, stringing swings over deep gullies. All day long we were absorbed in some form of physical activity. Horses, were de rigeur - but we had to clean tack, take the herd to pasture, muck out stables and give riding lessons to earn privileges. I feel so blessed that my childhood was in the golden age.
I went to rural school where we never had asphalt playgrounds.
I think kids are becoming too safe to learn some pretty basic self taught lessons.
Bring back rhe sand boxes.
Corndogs?! From my cold dead hands!
Asphalt playgrounds provided wonderful cushioning when you fell off the jungle gym...
The corn dog stick makes a wonderful weapon to stab the clown who tries to take your see saw away.
I always liked see-saws. And swinging as high as I could and jumping off the swing. Those monkey bars got really slippery after they had been worn in good.
Stabbin' is too good for the bastage.
Do they still make metal slides that make your butt sizzle like bacon on a sunny day?
The see-saw is the cruellest ride.
It tricks you with the upward glide.
The person on the other side
You fall and smack your cheeky hide.
I agree. The old ‘double dare you’ was a way to test our physical capabilities, reactions, strength and courage. We also learned to be creative, solve problems and find our way out of trouble.
I slid down a steep cliff one day - chasing after my stupid dog. It was high tide at the bottom and I quickly realized I needed to scramble back up at an angle (not straight up) it limited the sand & rocks collapsing above me and was an easier climb..
Survival!!!! Essential for girls and boys.
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