COLUMN: Risks a necessary part of childhood

Prepare for some head scratching, because you just can’t make this stuff up.

Prepare for some head scratching, because you just can’t make this stuff up.

An elementary school in a large city somewhere out east  – I won’t say which to save its residents embarrassment, but it’s hockey team (which some would say is an embarrassment in itself) wears our national emblem in blue on its sweaters – has banned balls from its playgrounds.

Yes, that iconic, ubiquitous, bouncing toy is now deemed too dangerous for the playground at this school of about 350 children.

Get your emergency kits out and prepare for the apocalypse, ’cause I’d say that’s a pretty fair sign it’s a’comin’.

According to media reports from this eastern mecca, the centre of the known universe, according to many of its inhabitants, this school banned all balls other than those made of sponge or nerf after a mom allegedly suffered a concussion-inducing soccer ball blow to the head while picking up her child.

Apparently, this school’s playground is a small, walled-in area that becomes crowded with kids and their deadly arms flinging balls willy-nilly, risking everyone’s health and welfare.

It’s been a consistent, nagging issue, and efforts to get the kids to recognize their own throwing strength just weren’t working, a school trustee told reporters.

Thus the hard line on potentially deadly round missiles.

Another trustee added that the ban wasn’t actually new, it just wasn’t being enforced.

It’s tough to say whether the action is heavy-handed or reasonable without witnessing the dangerous dodgeball chaos on the playground, but you’ve got to think there might be better options.

Limiting the number of balls on the field of play, for one? Or more stringent refereeing by supervisors on the sidelines?

Given this country’s growing obesity epidemic among people both young and old, you’d think we’d be doing everything possible to encourage children to stay active.

Taking all but the most innocuous of balls off the playground seems to run counter to the goal of improving physical fitness.

But this Toronto school (oops, wasn’t going to give away the location, was I?) isn’t alone in its bashfulness toward balls and other potentially injurious forms of play.

Other Ontario school have prohibited balls after specific incidents, although they were reportedly overturned due to pressure from the students.

Still other school have apparently banned gymnastics, dodge ball (naturally), floor hockey and even that terrifying of schoolyard pastimes – tag.

Sorry, tag?

A children’s game of tag is about as dangerous as a pillow fight (unless the pillow cases also contain the kids’ sports trophies, as a friend of mine once did to her sister with painful consequences).

The bottom line is that yes, injuries can occur when kids are at play.

I’m reminded of the old Dan Aykroyd/Candice Bergen skit from Saturday Night Live in which Aykroyd plays Mr. Mainway, an unscrupulous toy manufacturer, appearing on a consumer reports show, who produces such favourites as the ‘Bag O’ Glass’ and ‘Johnny Switchblade’ doll.

The skit ends with Mainway feigning choking on a little foam play ball.

That’s way, way over the top, which is why the skit is humorous, but it also hints at a grain of truth.

Our attempts to manage the risks to children are going into overkill and are in fact putting them more at-risk of both injury and more sedentary lifestyles resulting in serious health issues.

There’s no way kids should be playing with switchblade dolls or shards of glass, but if we’re going to take away balls and anything else that could, maybe, possibly, potentially, at some point bring them harm, we might as well just ban childhood altogether.

Just Posted

Man involved in beating and tasering over a drug debt to be sentenced in Nanaimo

Colin Damen Gary Lamontagne pleaded guilty to charges, including aggravated assault

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP to host series of community meetings

First meeting is scheduled for July 18 at the North Oyster Community Centre

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Appeal court decision on plastic bags misguided

Province should support municipalities’ efforts to take environmental action, says letter writer

Three vehicles collide behind Nanaimo’s Country Club Centre

No one hurt in accident Wednesday morning

Developers go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by Parksville council

IAG Developments has proposed a multi-building development on city’s waterfront

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Nanaimo mom says she will go to court to try to get allegedly abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Most Read