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This school banned cartwheels, tag, balls, fun at recess

Who knew that cartwheels were such a childhood hazard?

To prevent students from presumably falling on their heads or scraping a knee, a school in Port Washington, N.Y., has banned cartwheels as a recess activity, unless "performed under a coach's supervision."

Um, hold on: Are there actual cartwheel coaches at Weber Middle School? And yes, that's right, we're talking about a middle school – that is grades 6, 7,and 8, and therefore 11- to 13-year-olds. Maybe if we were talking about those foolhardy Kindergarten kids this might make some sense – or not.

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But cartwheels aren't the only verboten recess activity. Also banned are footballs, soccer balls, baseballs and lacrosse balls, "anything that might hurt someone on school grounds," as a local television report explained. Oh, and no games of tag either. That's so old-school.

According to the news report, the students themselves are not pleased. As a voice of reason, one student was quoted observing: "Cartwheels and tag – I think it's ridiculous they are banning that." Another pointed out: "You go for recess – that's your free time to go let loose and recharge."

But all is not lost: Instead, the school will give students soft Nerf balls to toss around.

Apparently, it's all in an effort to stop a "rash of playground injuries." The report quotes Port Washington schools superintendent Kathleen Maloney saying, "Some of these injuries can intentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our students have fun, but are also protected."

The question is who is really seeking protection? One suspects it's really the school board from lawsuits. In which case, we can all pine for the good old days when a soccer ball was just a soccer ball, and not a dangerous projectile.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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