Thursday, November 2, 2006

Tag: Not It!

Willett Elementary School (south of Boston) has banned kids from playing tag, touch football, and other unmonitored chase games. Officials fear that the school will be held liable for any injuries that the children may suffer when engaged in these sports during recess. (Elementary schools in Spokane, WA, and in Cheyenne, WY, have also banned tag, and a Charleston, SC, suburban school has banned all unsupervised contact sports.) Even though the disallowals of contact sports such as tag, touch football, and dodge ball are ridiculed by many conservatives, these sports do allow the victimization of weak children by strong ones often with the tacit, and not so tacit, encouragement of callous coaches. If schools continue to allow such unsupervised sports, they should be held fully liable for any foreseen or reasonably foreseen harm that the children under their care incur.

Cf. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2581504.

12 comments:

piperfromtn said...

Lib's can ban tag but can't keep predatory sexual deviants from harming children.  As  a teacher, we usually monitor any play(when I was an elementary teacher)outside and kids have to be kids.  Sometimes bones get broken and that's part of life.  Oh well, I guess we need to wrap em' up in bubble wrap and catheterize them while at school.  Nanny State knows best, don't she?

jakeho said...

Prohibition of healthy sports because of fear of litigation can go much too far. However, I do believe that children should be supervised at school at all times by a responsible school official and the children's legal guardians should be asked to sign permission slips for various physical activities. Such permission slips should also be revocable at will by the child's legal guardian. I agree we certainly don't need a Procrustean approach to the education of children.

grgb4 said...

My sympathies are more in line in J on this one, both of us having gone to little "country academies" run by good ol' boy coaches and offering P.E. at 5th period where the fat and/or weak boys were routinely run roughshod over by the strong boys.  Often at the coaches' gleeful approval.  

asixpilot said...

Remember dodgeball?  Not allowed anymore either.  I saw a HBO Sports once and it detailed how PE has changed in our schools.  Sadly, it is not for the better.  To wit; individual jump rope is now done sans rope and children are told to "visualize" jumping over the pretend rope.  Some of today's educators feel the negative feedback of the rope hitting their legs is not good for our children.  
Now in my job this may just work; I can sit at the end of the runway and put my arms straight out and make airplane noises.  I don't want any negative feedback if I should crash the plane and this should keep me safe.

jharkansas said...

I don't know, J.  I think controlled adversity for children can be beneficial and preparatory for being a grown up.  Kids learn how to deal with being physically weaker by seeking to excel in other areas.   Is it wrong for the smart kids to get stars or rewards for making A+'s?  Isn't that a form of mental abuse for the not-so-smart kids?  No, they get their payback during dodgeball.  Inequities are a part of life and figuring out ways to correct an inequity in your own life is part of the fun of living, working and studying hard, and enjoying the fruits of your labors.

jakeho said...

Perhaps, the smart nerds and geeks get their payback during dodgeball but the parents and the schools of their tormentors get their comeuppance for their negligence, recklessness, and/or intentional infliction of pain by the trial lawyers that are the bane of so-called compassionate conservatives. The inequities of Darwinian physical education are balanced out on the scales of Lady Justice. Btw, the athletically gifted receive their suppers and trophies while their scholastically gifted classmates get an honors day and awards.

jharkansas said...

J, I think you might be overexaggerating the negatives (physical and mental) of dodgeball, tag, etc.  The worst I've seen is someone getting a bloody nose (and that was one of the big, tough kids).  The irony of dodgeball is that the "fun" of it was not getting the weaker "easy" kids, but the unmitigated thrills would come when a little guy would get one of the bigger guys out.  Humiliations galore!  Also, it generally came down to the big guys duking it out at the end.  Isn't this real life?  As Nietzche said, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger." (or something like that)

grgb4 said...

Dodgeball is fairly tame, I'll admit.  The bigger boys made a better target anyway.  Do you remember "slaughterball" or often called "smear the queer" (sorry, a non PC term used back in the 1970's)?  It was basically a free for all type of dodgeball.

Also, I remember one time in high school at P.E., during touch football (with full line contact) one skinny kid was standing there minding his own business and another bigger guy smashed into him and broke his ribs.  The coach of course, labelled it a 'good hit.'  

jakeho said...

Joseph, as in any voluntary competitive sport, the fun and thrill of it is to see who will be the victor after the "big guys" duke it out to the end. However, I see no fun and thrill that is rightly engendered by getting the "weaker 'easy' kids" that are in the game by compulsion. It seems to be quite salient that Columbine-like catastrophes in our schools are often precipitated by children being picked on and harassed by their more popular peers and an irrational response thereto. The schools have a responsibility to prevent the abuse of these at risk children and thereby protect their whole student body from the liklihood of future violence by those students who might avenge themselves in the worst way.

piperfromtn said...

I agree with the idea of not letting the little guys 'get it' from the big guys/aggressive guys(read 'guys' for both boys and girls). The under compulsion thing is the key. And callous coaches are just that: callous in my school as they are elsewhere.  I'm in a unique position to be the 'righter of wrongs and protector of the small' as a teacher and it seems to be working:
      I asked one of my students today, after hearing of one of my earlier in the day students, who had gotten pummeled by a full Dr. Pepper bottle: "Why don't fights happen in my room? I hear about them in the gym" (not that I'm looking for fights in my room).  She said, "Because they're afraid of you, Mr. S".


Protector of the Small 1, Athletes & Coaches 0

jakeho said...

Kudos, J, for being there to insure that your classroom is a haven wherein your students feel and are physically safe. I am not against contact sports if the participation is fully volitional and not coerced in any manner.

piperfromtn said...

I agree on the contact sports.  

I will say I abhor the preference of sports over academics with some, in that, sports is viewed religiously rather than as something to be enjoyed after you get the work done.

Geo, free-for-all dodgeball still goes on in our school albeit, it is supervised. One friend is an aide to the sp-ed classes.  We've all gotten pummeled while simply visiting, just because we're in the gym.