For years, the old playground game of dodge ball has been taking a hit. Some say it is too violent. But others say it teaches kids important skills, such as quick decision-making.
School districts in states including Texas, Virginia, Maine and Massachusetts banned the game in 2001. Neil Williams, a professor of physical education at Eastern Connecticut State University, even created a P.E. Hall of Shame in which dodge ball is included. “The game allows the stronger kids to pick on and target the weaker kids,” he says.
There are other objections to dodge ball. A child who is hit by a ball in the first few seconds spends the remainder of the game sitting on a bench, watching others. Those who do remain in the game, according to critics, become human targets, which could lead to bullying.
There are, however, those who defend the game. Rick Hanetho, founder of the National Amateur Dodge ball Association, says the game allows kids who are not good athletes to participate in a team sport. He also argues that it teaches hand-eye coordination, concentration and the ability to think and draw quick conclusions.
What’s more, proponents of dodge ball say kids have a lot of fun, as long as the game is properly supervised. Gym teachers and coaches must be sure that kids follow the rules and don’t aim to hurt anyone. It also helps, say dodge ball supporters, to use a soft, squishy ball.
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