Windham, NH – A strict anti-bullying campaign is leaving Windham schools without the sport of dodgeball. We’ll attempt to avoid any and all references to the 2004 comedy Dodgeball for the purposes of this article.
Even though these days it is played with foam balls that don’t really hurt when they hit you and the object of the game it to target the strong players instead of the weak ones, Windham school officials have outlawed the sport of dodgeball and other “target” sports from gym classes.
It all started with a parent complaint and went up for a vote with the School Board, which decided 4-1 last week. Physical education teachers had studied the game and reportedly agreed that it should be eliminated.
“We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence free,” Windham superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said. “Here we have games where we use children as targets. That seems to be counter to what we are trying to accomplish with our anti-bullying campaign.”
So far, Windham is the only district to place an outright ban on dodgeball. Officials in other districts say that the game is played less than it used to be but not because of safety concerns. It’s just really unpopular among students, and fitness-based activities have taken the lead.
School Board member Dennis Senibaldi was the sole vote against banning dodgeball. “We have rules that are set in place to deal with bullying,” he said. “We don’t need to ban an entire round of games just to enforce those rules.”
He also said that he considers the game to be “fun and spirited” and suggested point alternatives to level the playing field.
“It just makes me scratch my head,” he said. “The balls used aren’t really that hard. These aren’t the days of the big red jelly balls anymore.”
Additionally, hundreds of Pinkerton and Londonderry High School students face each other in a charitable dodgeball tournament each year. One sophomore who participates in the tournament said that he doesn’t consider dodgeball to be a bully’s game.
“If we go after someone, it’s usually a bigger kid determined to make their team weaker,” he said. “They know it’s part of the game and they understand that.”
No word on whether Windham’s students will miss the game. School Board officials could send a “Sorry your dodgeball game just got crushed by two tons of bureaucracy” Hallmark card to them, but it’s doubtful they make them. Hey, I said I’d try to avoid Dodgeball references.
What do you think? Is the elimination of dodgeball from Windham schools a good thing? Should other districts consider it? Or is dodgeball just a harmless game? Sound off!