June 28, 2002
Last month the principal of Franklin Elementary School in Santa
Monica, California banned the game of tag from the school
The reason? Well, in addition to the occasional scrape and
bruise, the Franklin Elementary School wrote in their newsletter
that the game of tag "creates a self-esteem issue" for the
children. This is because, they explained, the game of tag requires
that someone be "it", which they say makes that child into
Silly me - I thought children bringing guns and knives to school
made the other kids into victims, not the humiliation of being
"it". No doubt if we dig deeper into history we'll find
that Hitler, Stalin and Attila the Hun were always being tagged
"it" in the schoolyard, and each unleashed their reign of
terror to compensate for their damaged self-esteem.
My recollection is that elementary school can be a pretty rough
place, with charges and accusations constantly flying about who is
"smelly", "ugly" or wears "flood
pants", any of which I would have thought were worse than being
I suppose if tag is out, it will usher in a new area of caring
and sharing - not to mention politically correct - schoolyard games.
For example, there will be no longer any place for "murder
ball" in our schools. Murder ball was always my least favourite
schoolyard game. Probably because I was skinny and fast and made a
very appealing target.
In the spirit of political correctness, "murder ball"
will now have to be replaced with "not guilty by reason of
insanity ball". In this game everyone is the victim. The person
who is hit by the ball will receive post-traumatic stress therapy
and the person who throws it cannot be held accountable since
society, drugs, alcohol dependence, poor parenting and an addiction
to pixie stix will ultimately be held to blame.
Jump rope will also be banned from school yards, as it makes
victims of those children with inadequate hand-eye coordination or a
learning disability that prevents them from coming up with anything
rude that rhymes with "France".
"Cops and Robbers" cannot be played in schoolyards
anymore. It will be replaced with "Protester and Riot Squad
Officer who is deeply conflicted about protecting a society he knows
doesn't spend enough on social housing". This is played by each
person hugging in the middle of the pretend tear gas and resolving
to work together to bring down the barriers that keep us from
feeling each other's pain.
Hopscotch cannot be played due to the possibility that it will be
seen as somehow negatively impacting any school children of Scottish
heritage who feel that they may be "hopped" over.
Tetherball will be discontinued entirely, as a ball tied by a
rope to a pole to be batted back and forth could be seen by
sensitive children as emblematic of the struggle of oppressed
peoples around the world striving to throw off the shackles of
post-colonial oppression, but chained down by the capitalist pawns
of the International Monetary Fund. Plus it's pretty boring.
Finally, picking dandelions and rubbing them under people's chins
to see if they like butter will be discontinued in case any of the
dandelions in the school yard are in fact genetically modified super
dandelions that have been spliced with the genes of dairy cows to
provide false positives about a child's actual preference for
If that doesn't go a long ways towards repairing children's
damaged self-esteem, I don't know what will.