America’s youth has become increasingly wimpy. While some of the reasons are obvious, such as the proliferation of videogames, blame can also be placed on the nation’s schools. As the New York Times reports, recess – the rite of passage for every red-blooded adolescent – has morphed from a rough-and-tumble break in the day to a big game of patty cake.
Gone are the games of my youth such as dodgeball, tag and capture the flag. Across the country, they are being replaced with Frisbees, Hula Hoops and fluorescent scarves used to juggle. Mark Johnson, principal at Oakdale School in Connecticut, told the Times that he had virtually banned “body-banging” activities so no one’s feelings or bodies get hurt.
From Wyoming to Colorado, schools are encouraging children to hold hands rather than throw rubber balls at each other’s faces. In turn, these juveniles will fail to learn some valuable lessons.
Many of my fondest memories are of myself, or my peers, getting hurt on the playground. While eluding a nemesis during a vicious game of tag, I once sprinted up a corkscrewed slide. Predictably, I lost my footing, cracked my skull and suffered my first concussion at the ripe age of 9. My friends laughed, as they should have, as I made yet another tearful trip to the school nurse. It taught me some much-needed humility.
I still haven’t outgrown my knack for falling and flailing during competition, but now I’m rarely offended when my peers laugh at my expense. It’s all part of the game. Unfortunately, the game is changing; it’s watered down and doesn’t prepare children for what will happen to them outside the playground. They’ll lose, they’ll get hurt and, when they cry about, no one will care.
The Beacon staff plays its first game of league dodgeball tonight (I’m not joking). And, while I always look forward to any competition, I’m equally eager to laugh at the first person who gets hit in the face with a rubber ball.
Long live recess.
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