It’s one of the few TV shows I get to watch it its entirety: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. It’s Gumbel and some of the best sports journalists in the country taking a serious look at sports … with great profiles and investigations. I never seen an episode where I don’t learn something new.
This week, Bernard Goldberg ( formerly of CBS News and now an author ) did a piece that I thought was not only interesting, but also maddening at the same time. It was about the effort in schools nationwide to ban dodgeball.
If you can remember, dodgeball was that game in which you were separated into two teams … and the idea was to knock players on each side out of the contest by throwing a rubber ball about the size of a basketball at them. The winner was essentially the last man standing. I thought it was great exercise and a lot of fun.
Fast forward to the here and now. Listening to some educators, dodgeball is the root of all evil and must be removed from every school system post haste. The feature among these enlightened educators is that dodgeball is a violent game that lowers self-esteem and clearly separates the kids into two groups: winners and losers.
Hello. That is the way of the world. Whether it be sports, politics, tiddlywinks or everyday life, there are winners and losers. You know, this has been tried with other team sports in the past: the concept of playing games without keeping score so no one feels like they have failed. It’s an idea that makes no sense .. and does more to hurt children because they do not face the facts of life until they are too old to really know how to react to them.
Everybody, this is a game, nothing more and nothing less. When those in authority try to place more meaning on these childhood games, that’s when we get into trouble. Dodgeball is a fun sports, like football, figure skating and soccer. All those sports have winners and losers and all those sports have moments where the contestants don’t feel like champions.
If you are wondering why America is sometimes seen as “losing its edge” and perhaps “getting soft”, then look no further than this effortto ban a game that is meant to be nothing more than fun. Look, we all want to protect our children and keep them safe. How about dealing with the real dangers to them first … and allow childhood games to be just that.