No More Dodgeball!

I admit to laughing out loud to some parts of that piece. Great stuff. I love how kids are being trained to not take a loss.

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27 thoughts on “No More Dodgeball!

  1. As goes the wussification of the children, so it goes for all of America.

    Another example is that in some towns, if a child tries out for Little League, he/she makes the team. There are no cuts. There is no ‘you are not good enough, kid – come back next year’.

    If the kids are taught that everything is a win-win and that you do not have to try hard to get what you want and that there are no conflicts because the competition might bruise self-esteem and egos, then what is the REAL lesson. And what does that say when those same kids are passed over for promotions because they did not try hard enough, or did not get that job because somebody else was better, or you can fill in the blanks because there ARE winners and there ARE losers and not everything is a win-win.

  2. I think it’s funny how an idea like this passed in a school. It really says a lot about the present state of American culture.

  3. I am from the pro-dodge ball, pro-competition side of the debate (against the new pe curriculum), and I find it shocking that the people who are also pro-competition in the video to have weak arguments, or atleast I walked away not satisfied with their responses, but that could be the interviewers part in asking uninteresting questions. I would be curious as to what kind of population statistics this program generates, and what significant statistical changes are brought up due in part to new PE curriculum. I dont think there was any objective evidence presented in the video, and it was all emotional response. I think the idea of growing emotionally stronger kids might be extraneous, since the same could go for adults perhaps (I dont really know for certain myself). I find this to be an interesting issue and wish dig further into the real issue lurking in the darkness about the new PE programs in America.

  4. It is not just a PE issue. It seems that almost everywhere that a child can face competition and end up on the losing side of the equation, there is a ‘movement’ to do away with that competition so that the child’s ‘self esteem’ is not dangered. It is a reason why certain educators want to do away with most forms of grading in class; it is a reason why many towns are implementing ‘every child makes the team’ philosophy; it is a reason why some people think that in-school testing should be done away with; it is also a reason why some child advocates think that children should not be reprimanded, but rather reasoned with.

  5. And guess who’s behind all this nonsense? The same folks that gave up political correctness. And that would be the left fringe of the Democrats, I’m NOT afraid to say it. Once our entire country has been turned into little whining wimps, our enemies (and yes, there will always be those), will have a field day turning us into their dinner….

  6. Rick,

    you are right when you say it is not just a PE issue. What is the real issue? I am uncertain as to what role competition has to the real issue. By that I mean, we naturally compete and since that is apart of our evolutionary process, our ancestors learned to compete against each other, as well as cooperate, for mating, food, and other survival essentials. I do not know what a correct assessment would be if we use this assumption. I would find it rather interesting if someone wants to ban these sports and activities because deep down they want to ban competition all together. Fear seems to pop into the discussion when this issue comes up. The child advocates always use safety as their argument as to why these sports should go, The professor at the beginning of the 60 minutes show talks about how it is aggressive, and even uses terms like killer ball, bombardment, etc. to help show a point that it is out of fear we should get these games out. On the other side we hear the proponents talk about turning kids soft and turning them into wussies, essentially arguing using the framework of competition. So how can we find a common middle ground between one side who advocates safety, and the other who proposes competition?

  7. I was a small asian child who grew up playing dodge ball in middle school and high school and loved it. For the most part, I was NOT on the winning team, but losing or being one of the first to be hit with the ball made me try harder the next time around. It made me want to be a better dodger or better striker. Sure I got struck hard, but it made me want to try, try, try harder next time to succeed and be the last person standing. It brings out the laughter and enjoyment in all kids and an occassional sound of crying from a child who was struck in the face, but this is what makes our childhood fun compared to the so called fun events the new generation of PE instructors are creating. Bring back the classic PE activities and the hardcore PE instructors who knows how to make a man or woman out of children.

    From where I stand, the AZ principal needs to take that smirk off her face and stop enforcing her brand of PE on other parents’ children. I wouldn’t want my children growing up being repulsed by physical contact even from their own parents request for a real hug.

  8. Jake

    Safety MIGHT be an issue, or it might be just the talking point for a larger agenda. From what I read and hear, it has to do more with a child’s self-esteem. If they remove the competitive aspects of most activities, examples of which I posted earlier, then there will not be winners – and therefore, there will not be losers whose self-esteem might be fractured. Of course we all know that even though you remove the words winner and loser and the trappings for them, they will still exist. Some will ALWAYS perform better than others. Kids will always know who the winners are. But, more importantly I think, by removing the competitive aspect and the measure of winning vs losing, kids are not taught and can not be ready for the competitive nature of our very existence and will lose some of the reasons for getting better and trying harder. Self-esteem and the feelings of self-worth come from within. Just because you do not win a contest does not make you a loser.

    But, maybe I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  9. No one wants to ban dodge ball or any other competitive endeavor for safety reasons. We all know this is about keeping kids from feeling a loss. Adults who probably never achieved anything competitively, never learned those great lessons, are now using kids as guinea pigs to fix their childhood. I am not a parent, but I have showed that clip to plenty. Their reaction? Their kids would be pulled from those schools the next day.

  10. Rick,

    “Kids will always know who the winners are. But, more importantly I think, by removing the competitive aspect and the measure of winning vs losing, kids are not taught and can not be ready for the competitive nature of our very existence and will lose some of the reasons for getting better and trying harder”

    I do not understand your argument here. You just said kids know winners from losers despite the semantics, I agree, yet if parents remove the competitive aspect, then kids will not be taught the competitive nature of our very existence? So is competition innate or is it taught? your argument presupposes both. I just ask for you to clarify more or expand on your idea.

    Why are parents/interest groups only banning dodgeball in this video? Is there a large group that wants to ban competitive sports because they are competitive, that we dont yet know about? If parents want to ban competition, why not ban baseball or football or any other arbitrary sport? This is why I personally dont think the larger agenda wants to ban competitive sports, for the sake that they are competitive, I find this argument superficial and circular. I think from the parents stand point safety is a legitimate reason for the banning of dodgeball, but not sufficient! Otherwise more sports might be banned for that same reason, so I should continue to rethink the parents arguments. Michael, how many of those adult losers actually have an interest in the banning of dodgeball as opposed to the other adult losers who, quite frankly, dont have an interest in the banning of dodgeball? I think you said it yourself, “Those kids would be pulled form those schools the next day” (I am getting that parents dont want their kids to go to a school w/o dodgeball I understand, yes or no?). I hope to continue the discourse later.

  11. Surprisingly, I find myself in favor of getting rid of dodgeball, although the “sport” I’d really like to ban is tackle football. The equipment is expensive and ridiculous, the activity basically amounts to felonious assault within the “rules”, nobody makes it through even high school football without semi serious and serious injuries. In the old days before they invented ways to repair ACLs, high schoolers who blew out their knees in football were basically grounded for life. And football just looks ridiculous, like some made up game for a skit on SNL. Good sports develop the body, they don’t risk it unnecessarily, and they develop athleticism, coordination and flexibility (see soccer, basketball, wrestling, tennis, baseball, track & field, swimming, crew, etc.) . Although better athletes clearly do better at football, it is the only sport I can think of where a 6 foot 2 inch 370 pound human being can occupy a place on a field.

    Getting back to dodgeball, it is a form of legalized assault where bullies with aim and power can humiliate the weak. Ban it, why not? (I lettered in 3 sports all through high school, including football, and was a pretty crafty dodgeball player in elementary school–full disclosure.)

  12. It makes me laugh to think thoughtful people can treat dodgeball as if it were a character building, competitive sport.

    What I see as more corrupt is the early onset of hyper competition, led by the corporate sponsors (Nike, Adidas, and most wanna-be but never were dads). Sports used to be inclusive, as a general rule, now elite soccer teams (the traveling squad!) can be formed as young as 9 years old, leading to a bifurcation (the cans and the cannots) before most of a child’s developmental growth has kicked in. In our neighborhood when the kids were 10 years old, they all played league soccer. At age 11 they were eligible for elite (travelling!) teams, so what happened? The one kid who made the elite team was “validated” onto a squad of 16 players (in a town of 135,000) U-12s, the rest within a year took early retirement. Why? “Because I suck at soccer,” was their consensus reply. In a town of 135,000 there were only 16 kids qualified between the age of 11 and 12 to play soccer, the rest were given notice that they “sucked.” It is very very important to worship at the Temple of Nike.

    My son was the one made the travelling team, played for another couple of years and then switched to tennis. The other kids never played organized sports again.

    My own conclusion, having raised 2 kids through league and high school varsity sports (one was a one sport captain, the other was a 3 sport captain) is that sports has become very corrupted in our lives, and many if not most of the positive aspects have been sacrificed along the way. The best educational, developmental, coaching and performance based lessons uniformly came from the music and academic programs, which happened to have been very competitive.

  13. I don’t share your views Doug. I saw too many kids forced to play as kids when they weren’t any good. They did not have the desire, did not practice and they did suck. Only when the “every kid gets to play” rule went away in high school did competition begin. Can there be traveling team issues? Sure, but if you practice a ton, and you show that you can play…you will get a shot. Academics and music can’t be compared to be a physical sport in terms of coaching and competition. No way, no how.

  14. Mike, what can I say? I played sports all through secondary school, even intercollegiate sports in Div-1 college (crew). I was a sports believer and thought that it would be excellent in terms of teaching, coaching, character development, etc. for my children. What I found is that the current post Nike, post ESPN, reality is very different. Do you have kids? Are they in the sports system? The reality now is an overall corrupt system that pushes a very few kids way too early, and is run on parents’ unseemly (and often dollar based) dreams, an overly politicized atmosphere, and tells 95% of the kids, in words they absolutely understand, “You suck.”

    Kids today are told, as young as 13, that they must pick a single sport (“choose soccer, Johnny, and give up track, baseball, and basketball”) so they can somehow become part of the elite world of sports. And to what end? What tiny percentage of these kids is really top or middle tier high school, let alone college? Let alone professional. It’s a sad joke. Of course when little Johnny makes his elite soccer team, then the parents start working on their sports plan, costing anywhere from an additional $5,000-12,000 a year. The sky is really the limit.

    Unless you have kids in or through the system, then you really are at a disadvantage in knowing how it works. I just went through 9 years of this and it’s really pretty sad.

    As for other disciplines, an interesting statistic I remember reading a few years ago, to the effect that there was one thing that 80% of medical students had in their background. Now, it’s clear that med students are in the elite category of students of natural sciences, so you might think it would be advanced placement biology, or 99% math SATs. In fact, what it was, was they were all extremely accomplished musicians in their secondary school careers. Music? Why music? Well, it is a mentor/mentoree based discipline, individual effort is rewarded, it combines mathematical, memorization and coordination skills with an unlimited aesthetic canvas. It can, in symphonies and bands, be an incredible joint venture in a coaching environment. So, in effect, people who do music as a big part of their secondary education turn out to be a lot SMARTER and COMPETENT than their peers. Once they are past the primitive, oppressive environment known as high school, they tend to bloom way beyond those who excelled in dodgeball and playing outside linebacker.

  15. Doug I am more than familiar with the issues, I disagree. When I was growing up I wish there was the commitment to traveling teams and extreme competition over letting little billy lose games every time due to forced participation. Specialization? I have no problem with that at all. Lastly, especially after recently reading ‘Outliers’ (an ode to Daniel Goleman and ‘practice’), I am not about to sit around and sing the general IQ praises of doctors/musicians to the exclusion of EQ and actual achievement. There are many a smart Harvard grad hanging around with IQs to the ceiling possessing little achievement.

    Competitive sports are good.

    Dodgeball is good.

  16. Dodgeball is not a competitive sport, it’s a recreational activity for elementary schoolers whose PE teachers lack creativity and energy. I’m sure there are many great achievers who look back, wistfully, to their days in 5th grade dodgeball and utter the immortal words, “But for that, I would not be the man or woman I am today.”

    As for the straw man of “smart Harvard grad hanging around with IQs to the ceiling possessing little achievement,” of course, there are some outliers. But let’s not be stupid about this. Go to any list of Nobel prize winners, Supreme Court justices, architects, who’s who. Even the ivies and Stanford, Caltech, etc. represent a big number of the winners in the markets.

    So, I guess what you are saying is you don’t have kids in the system but you are familiar with the issues. LOL. That’s like saying, “I’ve never traded an option or a future, but I know all about trading.”

  17. Doug, I am more than familiar with the issues, and I disagree even more firmly than before. The more you add the more you reveal how strongly we disagree. The type of perspective you have on the world? I don’t want your world. Not my cup of tea. It is the ‘wussification’ of America. I seriously doubt you are swaying many in this forum. And looking back to the original video clips you are starting to sound like some of these crazed teachers. I don’t really care, but it is what it is.

  18. Mike,

    Since you’re so big on competitive sports, and anti-wuss, let me just ask you one question. Please list the number of competitive and non-competitive (say, high angle mountaineering, or back country ski expeditions, white water kayaking) sport events you’ve participated in during the last 12 months and the total hours (include training sessions and the events for marathons, half marathons, triathlons, ski races, USTA tennis matches, tournaments and anything else you do competitively at your relatively young age).

    What I generally find is that the people who bellow the loudest at sports events, who like to scream at refs and kids and coaches, generally sport a 42 inch or larger waist and haven’t played a competitive sport since they were cut from freshmen basketball 30 years ago. Their interaction with sport and competition is yelling at the TV while trying not to spill their beer. And people who have a defined “love” for our current system of school sports (co-sponsored by the Nikes, Adidas, Cokes and Budweisers of the world) often find rising from the couch to empty the bladder the most significant athletic event of their Sunday.

    Btw, you really need to reread Gladwell’s Outliers, in particular the section on the Canadian hockey youth teams–it proves my point. By selecting at an early age, from a random point (birth date cutoff), they stack the deck in favor of a small group of “birth-lucky” players who may be 3 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than those in the “birth unlucky” group. It’s not that kids born in, say November and December, are better hockey players and that the other kids “suck,” (although that is the message they get when they don’t make the Canadian U-10 All Star Juniors!), it’s that the system is exclusionary and arbitrary (and, frankly, stupid). Ah, those wussies born in January to October–what were their parents thinking as they were making l’amour up in old Quebec?

    As for me, it has been a typical Saturday. Up at the crack of dawn to read the paper, 2 hours of competitive tennis at the club, a 40 mile (2,000 feet elevation gain) road bike ride through the wine country here, getting ready for the summer triathlon season. My riding partner today is a former Div 1 track star, like me now in his mid 50s. I told him some guy on the internet thought dodgeball was a competitive sport and he nearly fell off his bike.

  19. Dodgeball is not a competitive sport. I did not say that and most can observe the logic you use — it is transparent. I said banning dodgeball, as the video states, contributes to the ‘wussification’ of America. I am also glad that you are active and in shape — congratulations — so am I. You seem overly eager to prove that competitive sports now suck and that kids should not play dodgeball — your opinion apparently proved by how many miles you can bike and how much tennis you played at the club. I can’t argue with that logic.

    Lastly, since you seem to fall off the wagon here in arguing, part of the conversation was related to lessons learned in youth via team sport. You now don’t care for lacrosse, baseball, soccer, football, basketball? But now favor crew, biking, tennis, running? And this experience is from your kids and seeing other kids not have good experiences? Ok. Fair enough, your choice, your personal experience. I still favor those other sports — the team sports. That doesn’t mean I don’t individually train, I do, regularly. Unfortunately, it is difficult to play competitive baseball with my schedule. But the notion that team sports, which you seem to be arguing against, are now useless, is off the wall. We simply disagree.

  20. Doug, I also am aware of what ‘Outliers’ says, but it does not back your point in any way, shape or form. It speaks to who becomes really successful in pro sports. I agree that arbitrary dates suck. That, however, doesn’t mean team sports are bad or should be avoided. It doesn’t argue against the dodgeball video.

  21. As I noted in my first post above:

    “Good sports develop the body, they don’t risk it unnecessarily [like tackle football], and they develop athleticism, coordination and flexibility (see soccer, basketball, wrestling, tennis, baseball, track & field, swimming, crew, etc.) . Although better athletes clearly do better at football, it is the only sport I can think of where a 6 foot 2 inch 370 pound human being can occupy a place on a field.”

    I never said team sports were bad–I’ve been a member of scores of teams over 40 years and will compete in a divisional championship in late May and a regional championship in late June in USTA tennis–just that the current American method of selecting earlier and earlier (younger) “elite” teams creates the exact opposite result anyone with an IQ above 60 and a pulse should want. By 17 most (and I mean 80 percent or more) kids have opted out of competitive sports, having been given the lesson early on that they “suck at sports.” We should want a system that reverses those percentages, so that 80% of high school students actively practice a competitive sport and feel positive about them, and would be willing to try a new one over the course of their 3 score and 10. We don’t have that system, we have a totally fekakte system that puts eleven year olds into “early retirement”, before they’ve even started puberty!–and elevated some kids because they were 5’7″ tall at age 12. We not only have an obese population, we have a sports stupid population with all the wrong values, and 99% of that stupidity lies with adults. And I say this as a guy who has actively done sports now for over 45 years, football, wrestling and track in h.s., crew and taekwondo in university, mountain climbing, alpine and nordic skiing, white water and sea kayaking, tennis, marathons and triathlons as an aging adult. I talk to kids today and they don’t have a clue about sports–they think it’s for incredibly talented people who were “chosen” at an early age. It’s a crap system.

    What Outliers says, in fact, is that it takes 10,000 hours of applied practice to achieve expertise. The reason why the Canadian Nov/Dec born hockey players got that was NOT because they worked harder or were better, but because they lucked into the fekakte d.o.b. system for elite teams, which put them on track to getting the 10,000 hours of applied practice while the other kids, 6-10 months younger, sat home. Joe Flom got his 10,000 hours doing proxy fights before any of the big NY firms were interested, Bill Gates got his 10,000 hours of computer coding because of an accident of being in one of the only schools with a computer and next to a University (UW) computer center where he could sneak out to at night. In fact, Outliers argues that everybody should be encouraged to get their 10,000 hours of applied practice toward their goal (flute, chess master, point guard . . .) because we don’t know what kind of mastery they will have until they do so. And this is my point–the American system today thinks it can identify the few who might qualify for this while they are still natural sopranos. What a joke.

    As for dodgeball, as I said originally, I have no problem with banning what I recall as a stupid activity. (I also think it’s pretty damn stupid to keep score and have league champions for 6 and 7 year olds in T-ball–so I’m gratified that most places don’t allow that, to the consternation of plenty of beer bellied dads whose prime has passed, and perhaps never was.) But it was that topic that led into the ridiculous system of secondary school, elite and club sports we have today, which ends up being, for society as a whole, anti-sport.

  22. anyone who takes the perspective that tackle football does not build athleticism most likely never played the game because they were fearful of becoming an actual athlete. There is no sport … i repeat no sport (other than rugby) … which combines the practice of every movement the body can muster and does it under extremely intense circumstances. kicking, throwing, running, jumping, leaping, finesse, strength, push-pull-grab,HIT!!! – outside of jumping in the water to swim – every sport that Doug mentioned is covered in the movements of football, all the while being chased by a pack of ATHLETES looking to drive you into the turf – if that doesnt improve your athleticism then nothing will. I didnt read all of the back and forth, but it seems like Doug is fearful of contact sports, lacrosse, and hockey, two more spectacular sports that build tremendous athleticism – Doug, no offense, but riding a road bike to train for your first century ride, is a great accomplishment, but doesnt build one into an athlete – you become an athlete through competition in aggressive situations that test your ability to step up to the next level, over and over again. that endeavor begins in childhood and getting bounced around a bit on the field only promotes the training.

  23. Michael,

    I played tackle football through junior high school and high school–center, fullback, end, nose tackle, linebacker. I listed the sports teams I was on above. I also had plenty of hard contact in taekwondo in my 20s. I forgot to mention rugby which I played briefly in my 30s. But, realistically, downhill skiing on the black diamond runs is the only contact sport I’m willing to risk in my mid 50s; to do otherwise would, frankly, be stupid. As for your description of football:

    “kicking, throwing, running, jumping, leaping, finesse, strength, push-pull-grab,HIT!!!”

    You are a fan, but I wonder if you ever played. Only the kicker kicks, only the punter punts. That leaves the other 43 guys out of those activities. Only the quarterback throws (unless you count the center on punts). Down to 42 guys. Leaping? I never saw the offensive line leap in my life, except to jump for joy after winning a championship. Receivers catch, if they get thrown the ball. Defensive backs have to be athletic, as do linebackers, and as I said, being a better athlete makes you a better football player at all positions, but there’s plenty of space on junior high school, high school and even college teams for large people with obese to morbidly obese body fat index ratios. If you are 6’2″ and weigh 378 pounds, 1) you are not an athlete, you are morbidly obese and a ticking time bomb and 2) you might be William “Refrigerator” Perry. At his stats, his body mass index was over 48; for reference, you’re overweight at a bmi of 25, and you’re obese above 30; if the Fridge had lost 140 pounds he would have still been obese. (The Fridge, your athlete, at the age of 46 is apparently hospitalized for a “serious” condition. I hope he gets better.) Reggie White, 6’5″, 300 pounds, one of the greatest footballers of all time, died at 43, with a BMI of 36.

    The offensive and defensive lines basically do “athletic” moves similar to those of sumo wrestling. It’s a limited range of motion, flexibility, coordination compared to say, an Olympic (or any competitive) gymnast, a decathlete, etc. When I lived in Japan I knew many avid fans of sumo, but that never made me think it was a particularly athletic activity, compared to, say, playing point guard in hoops or striker on a soccer squad. In sumo and football on the scrimmage line, the larger, quicker, lower man can, over time, get an advantage in moving the other. But practically speaking, you would be endangering the lives of Div-1 and NFL linemen if you made them, even at the peak of their shape, practice and play either full court basketball or full pitch soccer along with real athletes in those sports.

    But my beef with football is really not about it being not such an athletic sport, but that 1) it is such a funny, over-specialized sport. The field goal kicker and the punter might not even play a single play. A receiver might never even be thrown the ball. Everything is so specialized, you might be a Nickel Back, or a punt returner, or the punt center, or the 2nd tight end used at the goal line. It’s like a jobs list at IBM, or Conrail. The rules are incredibly complex and require a team of 4 or more referees to hash it out, and they still get it wrong all the time. The structure of the coaching staff and the players’s roles is just byzantine. It doesn’t look like any other sport, unless you categorize Indy or Nascar racing as sports, where you have the driver, the tire guy, the gasoline guy, the guy with the walkie talkie, etc. 60 minutes of football, reduced to its actual play time, takes only about 12 minutes I think, the rest is walking back to the huddle, huddling, getting set. Oh yes, and commercials. Football is really just the thin slice of salami to put between the incredibly fat pieces of bread that are its hype and commercials.

    2) It is incredibly expensive, the cost to outfit a single player with helmet ($250 or more) pads, shoes, etc. can go over $600 for a high school boy. Outfit a 40 boy squad for high school and just the uniforms alone, before you buy a single ball, kicking tee, or whistle, will set you back $24,000 or more. For soccer, you need a ball, some shirts and shorts, and some soccer cleats. Done, for maybe $400. And only one referee. For basketball, you need two hoops, sneakers, shirts and shorts and a basketball or two.

    3) It is still a very dangerous sport, and cripples its long time participants. See Dick Butkus, etc. It’s the only sport I know of where there are pages and pages of rules about concussions and when a player can play. It used to be a lot more dangerous in terms of fatalities, but it was so horrendous (in 1968 36 boys died playing football–I guess those athletes chasing the 36 literally and figuratively did drive them into the dirt, the cemetery dirt at that) that more and more rules came into effect.

    Many sports are dangerous, and someone with a weak heart can collapse and die on a cross country course or swimming 400 meters, but nothing like the damage that can be done, within the rules of the sport, to spinal cords, collarbones, knees and the rest of the infrastructure.

    Finally, as to your definition of an athletic sport, if I understand it, it must somehow contain physical battering in aggressive situations: football, lacrosse, rugby, boxing, and I would assume wrestling. Is that right? And something like a marathon run, a triathlon, the Tour de France, Wimbledon, the NBA, MLB, soccer don’t cut it. Too bad about Lance.

    For my son, I’m happy he showed no interest in football, and for people who have children who play the sport, I think they understand what I say. But I’ve played a lot of contact sports, it’s really only football (well, boxing is just voluntary brain injury, so that’s a ridiculous sport as well; I won’t even go into cage fighting or Thai boxing) where the dangers to the players outweigh its usefulness. Of course, we will never get rid of football, it’s too much part of American mythology. And there is too much money sloshing around in the NCAA and NFL, money talks and bullshit walks, as they say.

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