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June 20. 2013 11:15PM

Dinged: Windham brings back dodgeball

Dodgeball is back in the Windham public schools. Sort of. The kids can play it; they just can’t call it dodgeball. Common sense could not push political correctness all the way out.

Back in March, the school board voted 3-1 to ban dodgeball and other “human target” games. Many in the public were outraged, and they let the board members know. “I’ve had all of George Carlin’s famous words on my answering machine,” board member Stephanie Wimmer said. “I had to take my phone number off the district website.”

The outcry led to a study committee, which produced a report recommending that certain “human target” games be played in physical education classes, but that children who did not enjoy such games be allowed to opt out. Fair enough. The report also recommended changing the names of the games. “Slaughter” became “Numero Uno.” Variants of “dodgeball” will be played and known by friendlier names, such as “Rescue 911” or “Doctor, Doctor,” “Rescue Me” and “Cageball.” There is one called “Four Corner Invasion” and another called “Star Wars,” so the scrubbing of violent imagery was incomplete.

Despite the mostly PC names, this reversal is a victory for kids and parents. For kids, it restores a game that develops dexterity, eye-hand coordination, agility and timing in a highly entertaining and competitive way. Competition is good for children, and elimination games like dodgeball provide a safe, constructive way for children to channel their naturally aggressive or competitive tendencies.

For parents, it shows what can be achieved when the community holds the school board accountable for its actions. Parents should never forget that school boards answer to them, not the other way around. The dodgeball flip-flop is an example that could, and should, inspire parents in other communities.


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