Dodge ball deemed too dangerous for Springhill elementary schools

“They’re taking the wants of the few over the needs of the many,” parent said

Dave Mathieson webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on November 29, 2011

SPRINGHILL ­– Dodge ball has been played by kids in Springhill for over a century – until now.

Education administrators with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board recently scratched dodge ball from the physical education curriculum at both Springhill elementary schools.

“At both Junction Road and West End (elementary schools) dodge ball has been discontinued,” communications manager for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, Carolyn Pierce, said.

Pierce said the school board discontinued dodge ball because it was played in a gym that is a “multi-purpose room.”

“For both schools, their gym is a multi-purpose room, an activity room, so it’s a lunch room and other activities occur in those spaces,” she said.

Most people visiting the Junction Road gymnasium would see, what appears to be, a full size gymnasium, whereas the West-End gymnasium is smaller than most gymnasiums.

Asked why dodge ball could be played in the two gymnasiums until about a month ago Pierce said, “We have concerns regarding injuries that have been brought to our attention.”

“Whenever student safety is a concern then, obviously, we need to act,” Pierce said. “So the situation was reviewed and the decision was made not to have dodge ball.”

Sam Alick is one of many parents who think the ban has little to do with injuries.

Her son, Carter, attends West End Elementary School.

“He was playing dodge ball until the first part of November, and then I found out on Nov. 10 that it was no longer part of the curriculum,” Alick said.

As Alick made calls higher up into the school board hierarchy reasons for the ban became more numerous, including: it works the kids up too much, and it’s a game that uses other kids as targets.

Getting kids worked up is what physical education is all about Alick said.

“I think that’s an awful reason to stop a game because the whole purpose of gym class is to get kids worked up and get their heart going,” Alick said. “Physical activity isn’t any good if your heart rate isn’t elevated. Kids need to get worked up.

“In a society where we’re battling childhood obesity and type two diabetes we shouldn’t be removing games where they get really worked up.”

Alick also said there are ways to get around the problem of kids getting too worked up before class.

“Maybe they need a 10-minute cool-down at the end of gym class,” she said. “Also, they don’t have gym class every day and they don’t play dodge ball every time they do have gym classes. They could play dodge ball before recess, dinner and after school, so it’s not a constant problem the teachers have to deal with.”

Pierce said the physical education objectives will be met without dodge ball.

“We had our physical education expert take a look at it and there is a list of options for physical education in small places,” Peirce said.

“We are now offering more activities and more variety of activities for those students at those schools,” Pierce said. “So we’re keeping student safety in mind but also helping ensure that the program meets all the curriculum outcomes that are required for physical education.”

Pierce said there would be a wider variety of activities for the kids and more activities as well.

“There are certainly other options for small spaces, like gymnastics and dance, basic movement, jumping, skipping, galloping and those sorts of activities,” she said.

Alick said dodge ball accomplishes many objectives other games can’t meet.

“The objectives dodge ball accomplishes is dodging, ducking, running, throwing and team play. Those objectives can’t be met with a game like soccer,” Alick said.

When it came to the question of human targets being used in dodge ball Alick said that, for all intents and purposes, the goaltender in soccer is a target that wears no protection.

“A soccer ball hurts much more than a 25 ounce (Nerf-like) dodge ball,” she said. “I did hear of a dodge ball injury being treated with an ice-pack (in Springhill) but I haven’t heard that there’s been breaks or sprains or concussions or anything like that.”

After talking to many people, including a person close to the situation who told her injuries aren’t the issue, Alick has come to believe the game was banned because the school received, “a couple of complaints from two parents because their child didn’t like the game or didn’t want to play the game or was injured in the game.”

“After a couple of complaints, rather than deal with the complaints, they removed the game,” Alick said, “The kids want to play these games and I think they’re taking the wants of the few over the needs of the many.”

Alick’s niece was brought home from a Springhill elementary school on Monday after she was smacked in the eye with a soccer ball and received a black eye.

 “Are soccer balls going to be banned now?” she asked. “I don’t think anybody got a black eye with a dodge ball.”