A New York middle school has banned footballs for fear that children might get hurt. There’s more to the story than that, of course, but that’s the basic gist: Weber Middle School in Long Island, New York, has banned hard footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls and other recreational equipment, as well as some kinds of play, in an effort to help protect students from injury.
Overprotective nannying designed to reduce liability at the expense of kids’ enjoyment? A responsible measure designed to protect developing bodies from concussions? There are arguments for both sides, but either way, Weber Middle’s policy will start arguments.
The ban includes “hard” balls such as footballs, soccer balls and baseballs. Soft footballs are permitted. Also banned: “hard” forms of tag and other tackling games, as well as cartwheels without an adult present.
School officials cited injury rates as a reason for the policy shift.
"Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected," Dr. Kathleen Mooney, superintendent of Port Washington School District, told a local CBS news affiliate. (Dr. Mooney has not returned requests for comment from Yahoo News.) Port Washington officials told CBS New York that other school districts have inquired about the policy’s specifics.
However, given the fact that the recess model has been in place for decades, there is the question of why the school would choose, at this point, to take such drastic action. CBS New York suggested that parents believe the school may be concerned about getting sued should students get injured during recess.
Weber Middle’s ban on certain kinds of recess is one of many stories of schools taking a harder look at whether day-to-day activities fit into their educational approach.
• In Iowa, students are banned from even looking at their cell phones because of overuse and fear of cyberbullying.
• In Michigan, an elementary school has created a “no tag, no chasing” policy.
• In Connecticut, a school banned the use of the phrase “Hump Day,” from the Geico commercial, because of disruptions in class.
Anecdotes aren’t evidence of a trend. Still, it’s clear that the school environment of today’s students is a starkly different one from their parents. Also clear: Students at Weber Middle and elsewhere will simply have to find more creative ways to entertain, and possibly injure, themselves.
These issues are far beyond the concerns of middle schoolers. For now, students at Weber Middle will simply have to find more creative ways to entertain, and possibly injure, themselves.