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Child's Play - Tag Joins Dodgeball as Playground Pariah
ABC News ^ | 6/24/02 | Geraldine Sealey

Posted on 06/24/2002 10:38:23 AM PDT by Interloper

Depending on your brawn, athleticism or popularity, if you ever went to grade school you remember well your place in the playground game hierarchy.

You either desperately dodged the ball or fiercely beaned classmates with it. You were the captain of the team or the last one chosen. Or perhaps out of fear or shyness, you just blended in until the bell saved you. For generations, recess games were considered mere child's play, even if they broke limbs occasionally or, more regularly, hurt feelings. These days, though, some educators have their sights set on some of the more potentially vicious playground activities, prompting a debate about whether banning such games is enlightened or over-protective.

Click here for some "controversial" games.

In one school in Santa Monica, Calif., the familiar game of tag is "it." The principal of Franklin Elementary School caused a ruckus when she wrote in a recent weekly school newsletter that the chase game was banned during the lunch recess of the grade school, which houses kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

Tag and similar games caused concussions, broken bones and numerous bumps and scrapes among the Franklin Elementary students in the past year. But physical danger was not the only harm cited.

"In this game, there is a 'victim' or 'It,' which creates a self-esteem issue. The oldest or biggest child usually dominates," the principal wrote.

The playground tag prohibition spurred a public debate. The Los Angeles Times picked up the story, as did at least one local talk radio show whose host lambasted the principal for her decision.

The Game of Life

The Santa Monica tag debate resembles a similar fracas the last few years over dodgeball — also known in some areas as bombardment. Concern over the game's potential for brutality and intimidation led school districts in New York, Virginia, Maryland, Maine, Ohio and Texas to ban dodgeball.

What's all the fuss about the games we have all played — and for the most part, survived?

To their critics, dodgeball-type games unfairly pit the weak against the strong, inevitably making the scrawnier students easy prey for tougher classmates. In tag, children may be repeatedly chosen as "it" as a form of humiliation. Then there's the social rejection inevitable when children are asked to "pick teams" and the worst athletes or least popular children are left for last.

There appears to be no consensus among educators and childhood education experts about the wisdom of banning certain games from the playground, and such prohibitions are certainly not widespread.

Some say the fun of playing certain games is not worth the harm done to weaker or less popular children. "There are lots of opportunities for bullying," said Dr. Charles Shubin, a pediatrician and high school physician in Baltimore.

Those who oppose banning games say the pecking orders revealed by playground activities can teach important lessons for the future, albeit painful ones.

"Kids have to learn how to deal with everyday disappointments such as being singled out," said Dr. Kenneth Haller, a pediatrician and professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "It's a cliché that games are a metaphor for life, but it's true."

Everybody Hurts Sometimes

Although it may be true that children need preparation for the dog-eat-dog adult world, Shubin says not every child will succeed in a cutthroat environment. Forcing them to compete, and more often than not, lose, will do nothing to help them cope in the future.

"Some kids are never going to make it that way, so they are just fodder for the kids who are going to make it that way," Shubin said.

Rick Swalm, an education professor at Temple University, believes in a laissez-faire organizing principle to the playground. While a potentially violent game such as dodgeball should not be part of a well-rounded physical education curriculum, he said, it can be a perfectly healthy activity for willing participants at recess.

Restricting children from planning their own activities at recess can also be damaging to their feelings of self-worth, he said. While some students may want to play hopscotch, others will still choose tougher games. And the latter will learn important lessons about winning and losing that are not in themselves, harmful, Swalm said.

"It's all in a context of 'life doesn't always deal us a royal flush,'" he said.

Keeping Fun In Sight

Experts said there are ways to continue the tradition of playing games like tag and dodgeball without permanently scarring some children. Adult supervision is key, they say.

For one, teachers can select teams, therefore eliminating the scenario of some children always being the last ones picked. In tag, Swalm said, students can be paired off in twos, so they can alternate being "it" and being on the chase. That way, no child would be "it" all the time, and no child would be left out completely.

As for dodgeball, some experts said the rough character of the game makes it beyond rehabilitation. But with adequate supervision and an emphasis on fun and not competition, others said, even that occasionally violent playground standby should be allowed.

"If one kid is throwing the ball really hard, they need to be told that. Kids need to be told what the rules of game are," Haller said. "They need to be reassured that this is a game, the goal is to have fun."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dodgeball; tag; wimpification
It's amazing anyone over 30 survived their childhood

/sarcasm

1 posted on 06/24/2002 10:38:24 AM PDT by Interloper
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To: Interloper
God forbid if a child learns to deal with disappointment, frustration, and failure at some point in their childhood!!!

That's why we have more and more adult (and child) psycho-loons in our midst.

2 posted on 06/24/2002 10:44:13 AM PDT by WellsFargo94
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To: Interloper
Our favorite game used to be "Kill the man with the ball" a cross between tag, football & rugby.

You ran with the ball until you thought everyone was going to tackle you, then you threw the ball in the air & let some other guy catch it & run with it. If you didn't throw it fast enough, everyone piled on you.

3 posted on 06/24/2002 10:51:01 AM PDT by Ford Fairlane
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To: Interloper
I have no problem with the life lessons that dodgeball teaches children. And I don't care much for pop psychology that says we shouldn't let our children compete. But, there is another danger from dodgeball that is not talked about much. I loved playing the game myself until 6th grade, when one of my classmates was blinded by a dodgeball.

We played with all sizes, but the small ones were the best. Our school's best basketball player was already tall, and with his long arms, he could really wind up the small ones and let loose. Unfortunately, one of his throws caught another star athlete, a pretty big guy himself, square in the face. The impact "exploded" his eye, and he lost all sight in that eye.

Our school eventually banned dodgeball, but not until after it had to pick up all the medical bills and was threatened with a lawsuit. To the blinded boy's credit, he and his parents refused to actually sue the school unless they continued to allow dodgeball.

I always enjoyed the game, but in hindsight I believe it was far too dangerous for us to be playing, at least the way we did it. Perhaps there is a safer way to play it, but I'm not aware of any.


4 posted on 06/24/2002 10:54:11 AM PDT by meisterbrewer
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To: Interloper
We used to play cream the carrier, where whoever has the ball gets tackled by everybody else.

I loved Dodge Ball. Those who worry about the fat girl that gets picked on are ignoring all the pleasure that accrues to the guys that are beaning her fat ass with the ball.

5 posted on 06/24/2002 10:56:50 AM PDT by Rodney King
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To: meisterbrewer
Perhaps there is a safer way to play it, but I'm not aware of any.

Make safety goggles available (not mandatory) for those children whose parents desire them.

Eye-loss problem solved.

6 posted on 06/24/2002 10:57:08 AM PDT by freeeee
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To: meisterbrewer
What kind of ball blinded the kid? Obviously, there needs to be limits, but the overall concept of a game that requires an equal amount of offensive and defensive tactics is a good one.
7 posted on 06/24/2002 10:58:03 AM PDT by Rodney King
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To: Interloper
Heck, I'm 43 and working on my third childhood. So there. Nyahhh neinerneinerneinerneiner!

;-)

8 posted on 06/24/2002 11:00:06 AM PDT by Jonah Hex
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To: Ford Fairlane
Our favorite game used to be "Kill the man with the ball" a cross between tag, football & rugby.

When I was in grade school in the not-so PC late 1970's/early 1980's I believe this game was called "smear-the-qweer." I imagine any kid who called it by that name today would be sent to re-education...um...I mean "sensitivty training."

9 posted on 06/24/2002 11:05:54 AM PDT by Orangedog
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To: Interloper
It's amazing anyone over 30 survived their childhood

Indeed. I guess I should have had therapy for the countless games of Old Maid....you know, the game where there is no winner, but one loser is systematically singled out for public scorn!

10 posted on 06/24/2002 11:09:59 AM PDT by Orangedog
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To: meisterbrewer
In my elementary school in the Dark Ages of the 1950's dodgeball was a staple. Common sense, however, prevailed: rather largish balls (like the ones used for 'four square') were used, the smallest maybe 10-12" in diameter and by general agreement of the kids, heads were off-target - hit someone in the head and it didn't count. Nobody wanted to be known as a bad sport who didn't follow the rules we'd all agreed on.

It never ceases to amaze me how many things were handled with common sense and discretion in my youth that now require reams of rules and rigid stupidity.

11 posted on 06/24/2002 11:13:11 AM PDT by CatoRenasci
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To: Orangedog
Ahhhh, yes. We also called "Smear the Queer". What an awesome game. Didja ever notice that the people trying to ban these playground games are either women, or limp-wristed poofter types? I'd bet not a one has had the pleasure of being the first to tackle the guy with the ball and then have about twenty of your classmates pile on top of you. Man, those were fun days....
12 posted on 06/24/2002 11:14:55 AM PDT by egarvue
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To: WellsFargo94
Have no fear, the schools are going in a new direction.

Coming soon to a school near Playing with dolls, Sewing, woops, never mind needles you know, Jacks, woops never mind hard ball and pionts on jacks, forget about playing with dolls also as their is a chance that some perverted child will attempt to look up the dolls dress.

So I suppose that the only thing that is safe for the children is sitting at their desks with their hands folded.

This is the way it will be handled until we put some adults in charge instead of the wimps that are there now.

13 posted on 06/24/2002 11:23:50 AM PDT by chiefqc
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To: Interloper
The game of "tag" having been deemed politically incorrect, will be replaced by the culturally sensitive called "Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck."
14 posted on 06/24/2002 11:28:14 AM PDT by Liberal Classic
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To: Ford Fairlane
When I was in Air Cadets we had a similar game, I think we were allegedly supposed to put the ball into a goal of some kind but that was probably a rumour. The one rule we observed most diligently was that whenever an officer got the ball, both teams piled on.
15 posted on 06/24/2002 11:40:16 AM PDT by Squawk 8888
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To: Interloper
I guess a round of "smear the queer" is out, too?
16 posted on 06/24/2002 11:42:51 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: egarvue
I remember those days well. In fact, I was often the one who ended up on the receiving end of a lot of the old games. But I refuse to join the limp-writs and the soccer moms in condemming these games. Those games taught me a VERY important lesson....that losing is a real possibility and that losing sucks! How else is someone supposed to figure out that life is not obligated to be fair?

Todays kids had better grow up to have a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for success...because they aren't going to learn any of these things during their childhood.
17 posted on 06/24/2002 11:42:54 AM PDT by Orangedog
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To: egarvue
you beat me to it! (see post 16) Another favorite was King of Hill where you kick everybody off of the dirt mound.
18 posted on 06/24/2002 11:44:36 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Interloper
TV Tag! Happy Days : )
19 posted on 06/24/2002 11:47:06 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Orangedog
Yup, my husband went to school in the late 60's and 70's and that was what they called it too. We played it and I went to school in the late 70's and 80's--can't remember what we called it, but I remember that when girls wanted to play it would be more like tag football with streamers hanging from your pants so the girls wouldn't get tackled. Course that would probably be met with a sexism charge nowadays.
20 posted on 06/24/2002 11:47:52 AM PDT by glory
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To: CatoRenasci
Aaaah, four square. I remember that. They still played it in the 70's, don't know if they do anymore.
21 posted on 06/24/2002 11:51:02 AM PDT by glory
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To: Interloper
We send our kids to public schools, but try to prepare them for the PC garbage they inevitably encounter there. One of the issues our kids understand to be hopelessly stupid is the "self-esteem" hoopla. They regularly arrive home on the bus and proceed to entertain us with stories of stupid self-esteem presentations or projects going at their school.

Anyway, when our children heard us talking about the "dodgeball" ban at other schools, they started whooping with laughter. It seems our middle school P.E. teacher isn't up on the P.C. times, he regularly schedules a game our kids assure is butt-kickin' great fun - it's called Nuke em' - and involves at least some degree of intentional landing of a volleyball on or very near the person on the other side of the net. It's their favorite.

22 posted on 06/24/2002 11:54:48 AM PDT by PLK
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To: Orangedog
That was my luck in dodge ball too--I could not throw to save my life and I inevitably got nailed on the leg--splat--big deal--it was fun and I got my turn to "be the hero" when I won a round of four square or aced a math test. Back, not so long ago, we all realized that not everyone was good at the same thing. It was not a perfect world and kids got picked on sometimes, but we all survived and had a great time in elementary school.
23 posted on 06/24/2002 11:56:37 AM PDT by glory
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To: egarvue
Yeah buddy! Smear the quear was the best game ever. I couldn't throw or catch worth beans, but I sure could run...
24 posted on 06/24/2002 12:00:17 PM PDT by Technocrat
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To: Interloper
Great the only game left for kids is... "Couch Potato"
25 posted on 06/24/2002 12:03:43 PM PDT by tophat9000
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To: Orangedog
Those games taught me a VERY important lesson....that losing is a real possibility and that losing sucks!

The same concept can be applied to the issue of teen violence. Better to let them lose a few fights when they're too small to do serious damage.

26 posted on 06/24/2002 12:05:58 PM PDT by Squawk 8888
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To: Interloper
Liberals were awful at dodgeball.
27 posted on 06/24/2002 12:06:21 PM PDT by Warren
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To: Ford Fairlane
Our favorite game used to be "Kill the man with the ball" a cross between tag, football & rugby.

I credited 5 years of College Rugby to having grown up with playing "kill the man with the ball".

Absolutely the most fun you can have in a play ground.

It's where I learned the tactic "Smash and Roll".

28 posted on 06/24/2002 12:08:56 PM PDT by MassExodus
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To: Liberal Classic
"Duck, duck, gray duck" will now be replaced by "Duck, duck, color-challenged-duck"
29 posted on 06/24/2002 12:10:01 PM PDT by kidd
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To: Interloper
Every kid plays "King of the Hill". One kid finds a high spot (a dirt pile or a snow bank), claims that he's "King of the Hill!", then everyone else tries to knock him off. "Tag" was something you did when you didn't have a hill.
30 posted on 06/24/2002 12:12:57 PM PDT by kidd
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To: Ford Fairlane
Our favorite game used to be "Kill the man with the ball" a cross between tag, football & rugby.

Man, we used to play that as well. I kept getting "killed" but I still kept playing. Got a few bruises and got the wind knocked out of me a couple of times but I survived. It was great fun.

31 posted on 06/24/2002 12:14:45 PM PDT by meyer
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To: Rodney King
What kind of ball blinded the kid? Obviously, there needs to be limits, but the overall concept of a game that requires an equal amount of offensive and defensive tactics is a good one.

Perhaps they used golf balls. LOL

32 posted on 06/24/2002 12:16:30 PM PDT by meyer
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To: Ford Fairlane
Same game with the same name on LI in the50s/60s. Gotta wonder how that happened.
33 posted on 06/24/2002 12:16:53 PM PDT by wtc911
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To: Interloper
And they wonder why violent crimes are up? These kids need an outlet to play, vent frustration, and get out their energy. If they just sit around and play "head's up, seven up", they will go home with all that energy.....and consequently get into trouble.

They are so worried about some kid not being picked for kickball, they lose sight of important stuff. Now get out there, play some dodgeball, and tag your neighbor (....I mean play tag with your neighbor!).

34 posted on 06/24/2002 12:18:25 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Interloper
..potentially vicious playground activities... "In this game, there is a 'victim' or 'It,' which creates a self-esteem issue..." the principal wrote.

Only an neo-Stalinist educrat pig could have written this with a straight face.

Where is the 'HUGE PROJECTILE VOMITING ALERT' an article like this absolutely requires?

35 posted on 06/24/2002 12:21:56 PM PDT by martin gibson
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To: Interloper
Public schools are victim factories, and we wonder why gangs are so popular.
36 posted on 06/24/2002 3:22:13 PM PDT by mindprism.com
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To: meyer
What kind of ball blinded the kid? Obviously, there needs to be limits, but the overall concept of a game that requires an equal amount of offensive and defensive tactics is a good one.

Perhaps they used golf balls. LOL

It's been a while (longer than I'd like to admit), but it was probably 6" or 8" diameter or around there. I agree with the earlier post about limiting the ball sizes to the larger ones to prevent such a problem. Again, I like the game in general, and all competitive games. I was a wrestler in high school myself, as well as football and track. Never did like baseball, too slow.

Anyway, my purpose in posting was to expose the dangers of the game. It is a great game, but it must be administered with some adult supervision and a little common sense.

37 posted on 06/24/2002 7:14:06 PM PDT by meisterbrewer
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To: meisterbrewer
Anyway, my purpose in posting was to expose the dangers of the game. It is a great game, but it must be administered with some adult supervision and a little common sense.

Understood! Yes, I can see younger kids, left on their own, improvising with the contents of Dad's golf bag. :^)

38 posted on 06/24/2002 7:54:40 PM PDT by meyer
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To: meyer
Not that I would have done anything like that. No, of course not.

I remember my cousin and I used to get into BB gun fights. We would dress up in sweats and wear safety glasses that our fathers brought home from work at the Ford Motor Company and chase each other around barns and fields shooting AT each other! I'm amazed we didn't do any permanent harm. But man, did it STING when I got hit!

39 posted on 06/24/2002 8:03:54 PM PDT by meisterbrewer
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