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Ban dodgeball? Why not ban boys?

March 28. 2013 7:53PM

Why does the Windham School Board hate boys? OK, maybe "hate" is too strong a word. Dislike, perhaps?

Ten days ago the board voted 4-1 to ban dodgeball from Windham schools. The board had the support of the administration. It is a "human target" game, the board said. It can cause concussions. It can make kids feel bad. It must be eradicated.

Windham children would be better protected if the voters would elect wiser school board members.

Dodgeball games at Windham public schools involved Nerf balls. Who gets a concussion from a Nerf ball? Football players get concussions. Hockey players get concussions. Both of those sports produce many times more concussions than Nerf-armed dodgeball players do. Yet football and hockey (in collaboration with Pelham High) will continue to be played at Windham High School. The concussion claim was a ruse.

The real reason was to reduce violent play that can lead to bullying. As Dennis Senibaldi, the lone dissenter on the school board, said, "If someone is being bullied, there are ways to address that. We have anti-bullying policies."

That leaves violent play. Michael Thompson, a psychologist and co-author of "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" said in an interview with the LiveScience website a few years ago, "There is no such thing as violent play. Violence and aggression are intended to hurt somebody. Play is not intended to hurt somebody. Play, rougher in its themes and rougher physically, is a feature of boyhood in every society on Earth."

As Thompson noted, boys are hardwired for dominance and aggression. Playground activities that let them channel those traits into competitive games, rather than actual fighting, do not create violent children; they provide non-violent outlets for boys' natural tendencies. Banning dodgeball does zip to protect kids. All it does is remove from school a safe outlet for boys' naturally dominant and competitive tendencies. That is, it harms boys. The school board should reverse its decision at once.

Education Editorial Windham

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