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Waivers for Play? Hopefully not in our future

Posted
Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:00am
Last updated
11 months ago
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Can it really be that the phrase “Tag, you’re it!” is a thing of the past? I was sure I heard that wrong when listening to the news recently. Imagine my shock at hearing that a school in Massachusetts banned the game most of us grew up playing in one form or another. Imagine my further shock when I looked it up on the internet and found that many schools across the country have banned this game. Some schools don’t allow touch football either. Why don’t we just take childhood away, period? Who needs it? Do I seem a bit passionate about this? I hope so.

Do you remember freeze tag, toilet tag, tunnel tag or other versions? It is free play that gets children moving, and it’s FUN. So what’s the problem with it? I couldn’t believe the answer in the articles regarding this: “Children can get hurt.” Here’s what they are really saying, even if they don’t realize it, “Children shouldn’t take any type of risk and develop physically, socially, emotionally or intellectually, and they don’t get to learn to experience life.” After all, isn’t that what the most important repercussion to this is? I’m getting a little “John Stossel” here and saying give me a break. In fact, I’d like to suggest his next piece be on this exact topic.

Will there be a personal space requirement in our future making sure we do not ever come in contact with another human being? Or will there just be rules of parallel play? Be sure you know the rules of engagement. I know that seems farfetched, but frankly, banning tag seems so as well. Lately, the real risk seems to have more to do with disgruntled children, or more to the point, teens who seem to have put up with the effects of bullying when younger bringing guns to school and threatening or killing classmates and teachers.

Can I get a little perspective here? Tag isn’t the biggest danger our children face in life, and we need to get a handle on this before we no longer allow our children to experience life. I don’t want my children just surviving life…I want them to experience it. Is there anybody out there with me on this?

I am happy to say that while I attended the NRPA show in Seattle this past October, I spent some quality time with many people who are so dedicated to this. I want these people to know I’ve got their backs. I participate in Worldwide Day of Play, just organized a Play-A-Thon for my community in September, and even got the mayor to proclaim that day each year as Citywide Day of Play. We can’t forget how important it is to play, even as adults. Why does someone get to rob our children of the joy we experienced as children…the joy of play?

Let’s get to the root…is it that schools are so afraid of being sued should two children collide? Do we need to include bubble wrap in the school budget? Do we need no contact orders signed by all parents and children at the beginning of the school year to be sure that there is no risk or maybe a special “Waiver to Play”?  What are we afraid of? Has the general mentality of society hit rock bottom, turning us into a sue-happy society? Should we just greet each other every morning with, “Good morning? Be careful I’ll sue you if you look at me wrong, think of the wrong thing, walk the wrong way or, hold your mouth wrong when you talk to me”? My vote is no. Let’s get this into proper perspective and let the world play.

Thinking Today About Tomorrow's Play™ The only magazine that is 100% dedicated to the Playground Industry

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