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Education Matters: Athletics can be 'touchy' subject

August 13, 2010|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

A few years ago, an elementary school in Massachusetts made the news by banning games such as tag and dodge ball and other "contact" or "chase" games. Another school somewhere in this great land outdid that by outlawing any touching whatsoever by students.

A school in Georgia addressed the "problem" of physical contact among its students by eliminating recess, figuring that if you cramp children's bodies into chairs long enough with no break time, they will somehow become better learners too.

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In these and a growing list of other school districts nationwide, school officials cite injured feelings of children and the increased possibility of a lawsuit if children are physically hurt.

It's a wonder any kid makes it through school without being traumatized for life. The safer course would be to just have the children sit it out on playgrounds and athletic fields like a bunch of field potatoes. But then they could sue anyway because all of the forced inactivity led to obesity.

Way back when I attended school, one of my favorite physical activities was something we called "bombardment" or "war ball." We played it on rainy days in the gym and it was a blast. About 40 kids on each side of the gym chucking volleyballs at each other and trying to survive without being hit. Schools in our district no longer play the game because of the same apprehensions mentioned above. A child might suffer a (gasp) bloody nose or worse, be struck in a sensitive area and be doubled up for a few moments (oh, boo-hoo).

Such dire consequences might just activate some of our vigilant (or should I say opportunistic) parents who are ever on the lookout to reach into deep pockets for some easy money, primed to threaten a lawsuit for the needless physical/emotional harm done to their poor baby. Rather than incur the costs of litigation, school districts (like Glendale) will settle out of court and then take measures to minimize the risk of a reoccurrence. And that's a shame.

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