If today’s children truly are the leaders of tomorrow, we are going to have the most passive, ossified leaders in the history of the planet.
It’s no secret that the tree-climbing, BB-gun-shooting, rub-some-dirt-on-it ways of past generations bear no resemblance to today’s bubble-wrapped youth. Trying to eliminate pain of every kind, both physical and psychological, has resulted in a society where no one is supposed to keep score (even though kids still do), and games like Dodge Ball are widely banned.
But is this really healthy? Didn’t we all learn how to get back up after we fell? Didn’t we learn how to take a punch, or play through pain? Didn’t we figure out that scraped-up knees and elbows were a reasonable trade-off for seeing how fast you can run, or how high you can jump?
Not according to the risk averse, anti-fun squad otherwise known as today’s parents and educators:
(via CBSNews.com) – A rash of playground injuries has prompted one Long Island, N.Y. school to ban balls and require teacher supervision for games like tag.
“Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected,” Dr. Kathleen Maloney, superintendent of Port Washington Schools, told CBS New York.
The ban at Weber Middle School in Port Washington, N.Y. will apply to footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, lacrosse balls or any other equipment that might harm a child or school friends.
Students will be allowed to play with softer Nerf balls.
Rough games of tag or cartwheels will require supervision from a coach, according to the report.
Cartwheels? Oh yeah: my school was awash in cartwheel-related injuries, as I recall.
Good grief, when I was a kid, the boys played a version of ‘Murder The Bum’: a ball was thrown up into the air, and the first guy to get to it ran like crazy, with every other boy trying to tackle him. And no, we weren’t playing with a foam ball, nor were we outfitted with protective padding or helmets.
Oh, and speaking of helmets:
(via NewJersey.com) – When sixth-graders in the Princeton school district head out onto the playing fields for team soccer, lacrosse and field hockey this autumn, their standard equipment will include for the first time protective headgear that school officials hope will reduce the incidence of concussive injuries.
It’s a requirement that school officials hope to introduce in successively higher grades as the years go by, until students in sixth through 12th grades are all wearing headgear during those sports.
Helmets for hockey I get. Heck, helmets for football, or for batters/catchers in baseball makes sense. But soccer? Soccer? If this is the new standard, how long will it be before the eventual replacement of the sport itself with a PlayStation-4 “virtual” Soccer team?
Of course, the kids will likely need protective padding for their tender backsides (due to prolonged periods of sitting)…but at least they’ll be “safe”!!!
Not the biggest daredevil as a child, I still endured a (then) normal amount of falls, scrapes, bumps-n-bruises and bloody noses. Whether it was cracking skulls with a friend playing football, flying headfirst into metal pole (five stitches), or crashing my bike while furiously pedaling downhill in 10th gear (…hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time…), I nonetheless quickly learned what my limits were.
And that’s the key part: learning.
Boys and girls figure out their capabilities/capacities largely through playing, competing and just having fun. I’m not advocating zero rules or wildly unnecessary risks, but it needn’t be a zero-sum game, does it? By “protecting” them from any and ALL potential hazards, we create a much greater one: children who grow up without learning how to evaluate, handle, and overcome adversity.
After all, isn’t it our job to teach them life’s lessons, even the sorta painful ones? Don’t they need to develop the defenses, skills and sense of humor that adulthood demands? Don’t we OWE them that knowledge? Speaking as a former kid and a present-day parent of two smart, happy, healthy boys (both of whom are often sporting a bandage or bruise of some sort), I firmly believe we do.
Because the world isn’t filled with Nerf balls, and life doesn’t give you a helmet.