Latest idiotic "Won't SOMEBODY PLEASE think of the CHILDREN?" moment [school rules]

From Yahoo! News:

Hmmm…let’s see if we can apply the lessons of this article, an apt function for the role of a school:
[li]Many drivers feel harassed on the road; the obvious solution is to ban cars.[/li][li]Clearly the subversive running games known in street slang as “baseball”, “touch football”, and “soccer” are verboten, as they involve students chasing after opponents to tag, touch-tackle, or get the ball.[/li][li]If something doesn’t go your way, just complain, whine, and moan until you ruin it for everyone. We all know adults just can be bothered with the herculean task of breaking up playground squabbles between 8-10 year-olds roughly half their size, much less actively organize activities themselves that guarantee child participation (rather than rely on the local bully). And, of course, the few adults that would actually bother can be scared away by the lawsuit boogeyman.[/li][/ul]
Really, I have no patience for this type of nonsense in education, where teachers and principals must think their primary role is to provide students with a textbook definition of “irony” as they act like the most idiotic adults in the known universe.

I really don’t know if there’s much to debate here, but I’d love for someone to defend this practice. IMO this is silly in the extreme, the product of a suburban ethic cultivated under such a steady stream of media angst that it can’t bear the thought of little Johnny and Jane feeling the slightest twinge of discomfort.

I was extremely upset about this as well. I just can’t understand why the adults in question just didn’t handle the situation themselves. From the story, the problem was just that some kids who weren’t playing tag, ended up getting pulled into the game as people tried to tag them in anyway. Oh damn, someone’s trying to get little Jimmy INVOLVED in a social activity? This has to stop. Next thing you know, they’ll outlaw dodgeball because it simulates gang shootings or some other equally stupid leap that only they can make.

Again, just my two cents though, now where’s my change?

From what I hear, dodgeball has been banned for years in a lot of school districts. I’m pretty sure my old elementary school district got rid of it a few years ago. It’s because dodgeball violent and involves throwing a ball, and the same “kids get picked on” element in the tag story. Alas, they weren’t creative enough to think of that gang thing.

My question is, who’s to blame here? You can always blame the districts for opting for deniability over common sense, but why do parents never seem to get together to complain about this? Maybe things were bad in this district, but I get the impression that a lot of parents don’t care that their kids aren’t allowed to have much fun anymore.

British Bulldogs should be made compulsory, IMHO

IMO, it appears in and of itself to be such a minor problem that many who are against the ban just can’t work up enough steam to deal with the bureaucracy they know lies behind these decisions. It’s the sort of thing that is trivialized by human interest stories on the back page of newspapers rather than noted as an example of a deeper social problem.

There’s also the old notion that when you start fighting with a pig in the mud, no matter how noble your cause, you both eventually end up looking the same. However ridiculous the ban on tag is in the first place, many, I think, feel it would be even more ridiculous to “make a federal case out of it”, and so look like a fool themselves.

There’s a “Death-of-1000-cuts” to this sort of thing; it isn’t this specific incident that bugs me as much as the horde of similar incidents sprung from similar “PLEASE think of the CHILDREN” motives in public schools. What morons are allowed to sit on U.S. schoolboards?

Well, smart productive people have shit to do, leaving those slots for crazies and idiots who have too much time on their hands.

Or so I gather.

True, but you might think it would bother parents enough when it happens in their own districts. The power structure there probably isn’t that entrenched or complex. This kind of topic is always going to be human-interest fodder, though.

Yeah! Let’s put Jimmy behind a computer, and give him a cellphone so he can communicate but will never have to deal with another human being face-to-face unless he wants to! And we’ll give him an IPod so when he really wants to be left alone, he can just turn it up and tune others out!

There aren’t enough :rolleyes: for this. Isn’t school supposed to be an education, part of which involves learning how to deal with others in all situations? Gosh, maybe we should all just tell our bosses that we don’t like being harassed and chased against our will when a deadline looms. Worked for the kids at the Discovery Canyon Campus school, didn’t it?

I’d be happy banning tag if it causes trouble, why not? Probably the result of bullies.
When I was in school they banned Red Rover when a kid got a broken arm from being slung around the schoolyard by bigger kids.

I don’t know. I’ve seen the movie and it seems like TAG can be dangerous.

Why shouldn’t tag be banned? And dodge ball? And every other game that, at it’s core, involves proving that one child is the least physically gifted around, and then subjects him/her to physical and verbal abuse, or drives the point home by making it impossible for him/her to accomplish the desired goal?

I’ve substituted as a Phys Ed teacher in elementary schools a number of times. Needless to say, dodgeball (and all its variants) and tag (and all IT’S variants) are quite popular. There is something inherently fun about running around, shreiking and screaming, and/or throwing things at other people. But I have always tried to turn the play and organized fun to games that involve less demeaning and more cooperative spirits. To me, all that tag does is single out the slowest, least agile person in a group and then forces that person into a learned helplessness when they become totally unable to tag anyone else to get rid of “it” status. This is almost always accompanied by gales of laughter, taunting the helpless child. Dodgeball is worse, because the unagile player is repeatedly pummled with the balls, made to sit out the activity, teased for inability to hit someone else with a ball, etc. And why would we teach kids it’s ok to throw things at others??

Now, one could assert that this sort of detrimental behavior could be regulated, so that it doesn’t “get out of hand.” In a perfect world, perhaps, but in today’s schools, often there are 200+ kids on a playground at a time at lunch (rarely is there recess other than at lunch), watched over by one or two individuals. Having been one of those individuals, I will point out the virtual impossibility of trying to keep a lid on such an activity, while 175+ kids are doing something else which needs supervising. And playground supervisors are rarely chosen from among the, um, shall we say, mentally elite of society. Under such conditions, it is not surprising that schools would choose to simply ban the “game” entirely.

That this is not a controversial decision is shown by the fact almost no one complained. Thus, with resect, I’d have to say that reacting with incredulity to this decision shows that it is your opinion that is out of kilter with society. And, unless you have been a playground supervisor, or teacher, I’d suggest spending some significant time in one of those positions before forming an opinion of how idiotic the decision is.

Jeez, what kind of assholes did you play with? I seriously don’t remember this ever happening as a kid. As I recall, the laughter was a result of RUNNING AROUND and HAVING FUN, not making fun of people. Besides, someone would let themselves be tagged if it went on too long, because one person being it forever isn’t fun. Maybe I played with decent friends as a kid.

Circa 1983.
I had been attending St. Mary’s catholic grade school for 7 years. Every year at the end of the school year we had a day appropriately titled “Olympic Day”. The day consisted entirely of being outdoors, eating picnic foods, and having events run by each grade level. 100 meter dash, free throw contest, obstacle course race, kick the ball the furthest, etc. etc. It was a total blast. I don’t know a kid who didn’t love it. And every event had coveted ribbons. Blue, Red, White for the top 3 winners. In all my 7 years there I never won a ribbon since I wasn’t the top athlete in my grade and the same people seemed to get the ribbons. I was fine with this and so were the other average kids. In fact we would get caught up in the excitement anyway and wonder “who’s gonna take the 100 meter dash this year? will Mark Gundrum withhold his title or will he be challenged by Andy Zacher?” Just great, great memories and highlights from “Olympic Day”…
1983, grade 7.
The parent-teachers decide “Olympic Day” is no longer a good idea. The same kids always win. All the others must feel terrible about themselves. We can’t have kids feeling bad because their not as athletic as others. That will just crush their self esteem.
So “Olympic Day” is canceled. For good. Replaced now by the newly titled “Fun Day”. Same events. However, no winners, no losers, no keeping score, time, or distance. And no ribbons.
Just cookies. If you participate in an event, you get a cookie.

“Fun Day” lasted one year I heard. It was canceled because the kids hated it. They no longer saw the point.

Be honest here: tell me that the kids actually liked noncompetitive sports in the same way as competitive ones. I very, highly, extremely doubt that in any way. “Cooperative” games are intriniscally not games at all. It might be “play,” but I know of no game ever in histoy in which there was not a winner or loser. And team-play games are honestly even worse for individual underacheivers or non-atheletes. You have to know your rules and position, know how the others are going to react, etc. And then, because you’re not athletic, you don’t eprform well and your teammates get mad and you.

Am I getting you confused with someone else, or are you the dude who writes roleplaying game materials? Unless you’re making the argument that all D&D players are a bunch of losers, this is silly.

I bet if I took a poll of folks my age, the single most popular gym activity EVER was the Parachute (and I bet half the people who read that sentence just thought, “Yay! Parachute!”) Most parachute games, certainly the most fun one (mushroom!), were cooperative activities.

That said, of course competitive games are fun. I love 'em. Many folks love 'em. The problem is that for them to work, you really, really need to teach sportsmanship hard. Many folks learn that at home, but then many folks don’t: parents are either overly protective of their children and never give them an opportunity to lose, or else parents don’t teach children that losing is acceptable (e.g., the hypercompetitive parent who always wins). Then there are kids who live in dangerous areas where losing at something is a sign of weakness, who play for keeps even in activities like dodgeball, who use the activity as a way of showing that they’re bad motherfuckers, much to the detriment of their victims/opponents.

It would be totally awesome if I felt comfortable playing dodgeball on the playground with my students. I do not: I know for absolute certain that the game would end in tears. I’ve actually had to ban playing ball games on the playground entirely, due to student behavior, until such point as I can teach the students better sportsmanship.


All right, googling didn’t help. What is Parachute? (And do I have to know what color it is?)

What if the kids are having fun?

And please don’t tell me the losers don’t have fun. I’ve always been short and was never very fast, and I almost always had fun in gym class. I enjoyed all of the competitive sports, even when they were somewhat ridiculous. School interactions are often vicious, but I don’t remember tag ever being the kind of vicious thing you described.

There’s a lot of condescension and the old “tyranny of low expectations” here. I don’t mean in your post, I mean in this approach to children.

Does that make it right?

I think everybody here welcomes contributions of knowledge, but an attitude of “if you haven’t done it, don’t judge it” isn’t very helpful.

Isn’t it worth learning, though? You have to work really hard to teach a lot of things - harder, in many cases, than you need to work to teach sportsmanship - but we think a lot of other things are worth teaching.

Get a few kids, or a few dozen, and a large parachute or other piece of strong cloth. Lay the parachute on the ground. One kid walks into the middle, the others hold the outside of the parachute and start waving it up and down. The kid in the middle gets a free, random ride. Eventually the other kids get a turn in the middle. Whee.

So we have an epidemic of obesity in children, and then we have schools that ban running around. Does anyone ever stop to think that maybe the two are related?

Hell, my friends and I used to get hit on purpose in dodge ball, so we could just sit on the side lines and talk.

Red Rover was banned when I was in third grade, after too many kids got hurt. I can understand sometimes-if you get too rough and can’t play the game right, no one gets to play. I think that might be what happens some times. Not that it’s about “hurting their self-esteem.” More like, “if you start abusing some activity, you lose the right to play.”

Make sense?

I agree with most of what you said here. But it is important to recognize that banning the playing of tag on the playground is different from banning tag as part of PE. The only people playing tag on the playground are willing participants.