Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 24, 2014

Generation of wimps looming

By CARSON TIGGES | Apr 21, 2011

Maybe I’m a crotchety old man.

Maybe I just wish things could stay the way they were when I was growing up.

It was bad enough when kids weren’t allowed to play dodge ball anymore because of the safety concerns. I was recently sent a report that said the state of New York has passed legislation with the aim of requiring state regulation for summer camps that include at least one game that “poses a significant risk of injury.”

Which activities are now on the list, you ask? Freeze tag, kickball and Wiffle Ball, among others.

Yep, Wiffle Ball. The game utilizing a ball specifically designed to be lightweight and travel at a reduced speed. Now it’s deemed too dangerous to play without proper medical emergency plans in place, which come at a cost and could force some games to be eliminated.

While I’m not overly concerned with what’s going on in New York, I’m a big picture guy and it seems to be yet another step down an alarming path — we’re raising a country of wimps!

If you’re wondering, that is not a good thing.

I am beyond thankful I was part of one of the last generations not subjected to this. Pinball war ball was the cream of the crop when it came to P.E. games back in my day. If my middle school gym teacher Mr. Poppinga had come in one day to tell us pinball war ball was no longer allowed, I may have just left to start a riot outside the school.

Can you imagine today’s children playing a game with “war” in the name? Oh, the horror.

And, to be honest, I was even a pretty big sissy as a kid. But I like to think my glasses being flung from my face thanks to a direct hit from a Nerf ball actually helped me move at least a little bit toward the other end of the spectrum. I patched those frames up with masking tape and got back out there.

The summer before seventh grade I was shot in the eye with a BB gun. Life sucked for a couple months, I wasn’t allowed to play football that year and, worst of all, I had to wear protective goggles for basketball.

It was a pretty serious injury and required surgery, but it certainly didn’t — and won’t — stop me from screwing around with BB guns in the future. The way I see it, it was a freak accident and I caught a bad break, but those things can happen no matter what you’re doing.

Can you get hurt playing freeze tag or dodge ball? Yes. Can you get hurt clipping your toenails? Yes. Can you get hurt solving math problems? Yes. (I have a 12-year old chunk of lead in my knee to prove it.)

Where does it end? At some point we have to let kids be kids and let people be people.

However, with no children of my own, maybe I’m just not qualified to speak on the matter. In much of the interaction I have had with parents in the past few years, it often amazes me how defensive and over protective they can be. Every precaution must be taken these days, it seems.

That includes protecting feelings. When did we feel the need to start giving participation ribbons for ninth place? Everyone will have to deal with failure at some point, and there is something to be gained by learning that lesson at a young age.

Maybe everything changes when you have a little one, again, I wouldn’t know, but I really hope I won’t be afraid to call my kid a wimp when he or she deserves it.

According to Pence Elementary Principal Nathan Wear, the only activity strictly not allowed at recess in Fairfield is tackle football. I was delighted, and a bit surprised, to hear that actually. It seems Mr. Wear has it figured out when he said the goal at Pence is to let the kids play how they want, but to teach them to be responsible while doing so.

I’m definitely not saying we need to go out of our way to be tough and dangerous just for the sake of it. Some safety measures can certainly still be taken.

In some instances, things have been made better. For example, I’m not going to be slapping on any lead-based paint when there are healthier choices available.

By the same token, a rousing game of red rover isn’t for everyone, but I think the option should be available to those wanting to have a little fun. Health problems in this country have been well documented, and when you keep taking away options for physical activity and exercise, TV, video games and forming your own butt mold in the couch become that much more enticing.

Sooner or later, we have to stop putting on the bubble-wrap suits.

 

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