Virginia School Bans Tag and Touch Football
An elementary school in McLean, Virginia (an affluent D.C. suburb) has banned tag and touch football.
Robyn Hooker, principal of Kent Gardens Elementary School, has told students they may no longer play tag during recess after determining that the game of chasing, dodging and yelling “You’re it!” had gotten out of hand. Hooker explained to parents in a letter this month that tag had become a game “of intense aggression.”
Kent Gardens, with more than 900 students, is over capacity. Hooker said the playground can get crowded when there are four or five classes there at one time. Over the past couple of months, she had noticed that tag was taking up too much space and sending too many students to the nurse’s office. “This is not the old-fashioned tag, where you could use two fingers and you would be it and move on to someone else,” Hooker said. The game, she said, has become much more aggressive. “I call it the nouveau tag.” This tag involves grabbing people who do not necessarily know they are playing and possibly bumping them to the ground. “Then the kids do ‘pyramiding’ or ‘towering.’ They pile on each other. [Sometimes] they call it ‘jailhouse’ or ‘jailbreak,’ ” because the child has to break out, she said.
We had a less politically correct name for that when I was growing up but I can assure you there’s nothing “nouveau” about this aside from the ban.
Gerri Swarm, secretary of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, said she was glad the principal was taking seriously student concerns about being pushed or shoved. “In this day and age, you can’t dismiss this as something not to worry about,” she said.
Oh, I think we can.
This isn’t an isolated incident:
Many schools nationwide have whittled down playground activities in response to concerns about injuries, bullying or litigation. Dodge ball is a thing of the past in many places, and contact sports are often limited at recess.
The Fairfax County schools’ office of risk management maintains a list of activities that are prohibited at any school-sponsored events. In addition to bungee-jumping and scuba diving, students are not permitted to break dance or play dodge ball or tug-of-war. Restrictions on tag are less common. Officials at several suburban Washington school systems said they were not aware of any schools that had banned the game outright.
I can see banning bungee-jumping and scuba diving, given the seriousness of the risks and liabilities. But tug-of-war?