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The Weak Shall Inherit the Gym

May 14, 2001
May 14, 2001

Table of Contents
May 14, 2001

The Weak Shall Inherit the Gym

Not to alarm you, but America is going softer than left-out
butter. Exhibit 9,137: Schools have started banning dodgeball.

This is an article from the May 14, 2001 issue Original Layout

I kid you not. Dodgeball has been outlawed by some school
districts in New York, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Many more are
thinking about it, like Cecil County, Md., where the school
board wants to ban any game with "human targets." Personally, I
wish all these people would go suck their Birkenstocks.

Human targets? What's tag? What's a snowball fight? What's a
close play at second? Neil Williams, a physical education
professor at Eastern Connecticut State, says dodgeball has to go
because it "encourages the best to pick on the weak." Noooo! You
mean there's weak in the world? There's strong? Of course there
is, and dodgeball is one of the first opportunities in life to
figure out which one you are and how you're going to deal with it.

We had a bully, Big Joe, in our seventh grade. Must have weighed
225 pounds, used to take your underwear while you were in the
shower and parade around the locker room twirling it on his
finger. We also had a kid named Melvin, who was so thin we
could've faxed him from class to class. I'll never forget the
dodgeball game in which Big Joe had a ball in each hand and one
sandwiched between his knees, firing at our side like a human
tennis-ball machine, when, all of a sudden, he got plunked right
in his 7-Eleven-sized butt. Joe whirled around to see who'd done
it and saw that it was none other than Melvin, all 83 pounds of
him, most of it smile.

Some of these New Age whiners say dodgeball is inappropriate in
these times of horrifying school shootings. Are you kidding?
Dodgeball is one of the few times in life when you get to let
out your aggressions, no questions asked. We don't need less
dodgeball in schools, we need more!

I know what all these NPR-listening, Starbucks-guzzling parents
want. They want their Ambers and their Alexanders to grow up in a
cozy womb of noncompetition, where everybody shares tofu and
Little Red Riding Hood and the big, bad wolf set up a commune.
Then their kids will stumble out into the bright light of the
real world and find out that, yes, there's weak and there's
strong and teams and sides and winning and losing. You'll
recognize those kids. They'll be the ones filling up chalupas.
Very noncompetitive.

But Williams and his fellow wusses aren't stopping at dodgeball.
In their Physical Education Hall of Shame they've also included
duck-duck-goose and musical chairs. Seriously. So, if we give
them dodgeball, you can look for these games to be banned next:

Tag. Referring to any child as it is demeaning and hurtful.
Instead of the child hollering, "You're it!" we recommend,
"You're special!"

Red Rover. Inappropriate labeling of children as animals. Also,
the use of the word red evokes Communist undertones.

Sardines. Unfairly leaves one child alone at the end as the
loser--a term psychologists have deemed unacceptable.

Hide-and-seek. No child need hide or be sought. The modern child
runs free in search of himself.

Baseball. Involves wrong-headed notions of stealing, errors and
gruesome hit-and-run. Players should always be safe, never out.

Hopscotch. Sounds vaguely alcoholic, not to mention demeaning to
our friends of Scottish ancestry.

Marbles. Winning others' marbles is overly capitalistic.

Marco Polo. Mocks the blind.

Capture the flag. Mimics war.

Kick the can. Unfair to the can.

If we let these PC twinkies have their way, we'll be left with:

Duck-duck-duck. Teacher spends the entire hour patting each child
softly on the head.

Upsy down. The entire class takes turns fluffing the gym
teacher's pillow before her nap.

Swedish baseball. Players are allowed free passage to first,
second or third, where they receive a relaxing two-minute massage
from opposing players.

Smear the mirror. Students take turns using whipped cream to
smear parts of their reflection they don't like, e.g., the fat
they have accrued from never doing a damn thing in gym class.

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
Dodgeball is one of the few times in life when you get to let
out your aggressions, no questions asked.