The P.C. Ban On Playground Tag

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - March 01, 2006

It is amazing to me that anybody born after 1970 would be able to survive without the intervention of government. If you were lucky enough to have been born from the 1930s on, how in the world did you make it so long? It seems as if everything you did as a kid is today destructive, harmful or illegal.

The latest atomic salvo in the “War of the Politically Correct” has been fired in Spokane, Wash. Evidently, citing precedent and the need to save the entire world, Adams Elementary principal Phyllis Betts said through a district spokesman that playing tag caused students to get hurt, some were “coerced” into participating and she feared the filing of lawsuits.

This ridiculous action is not the first taken.


In 2002, the head of Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, Calif., took matters into her P.C. hands and banned playground tag for similar reasons. Principal Pat Samarge charges the ban is justified because it enhances children’s safety. Assistant principal Barry Yates, who assisted in crafting the ban, states, “The students playing the game were not the only ones being hurt. The kids playing are rarely looking where they are going but are looking for who’s chasing them. Then they plow into somebody, usually a small kid.”

Fine. But if you look a little further into their announcement, they include the justification: “The running part of this activity is healthy and encouraged; however, in this game there is a ‘victim’ or ‘it,‘which creates a self-esteem issue. The oldest or biggest child usually dominates.”

Self-esteem?

Why is it liberals seem to think you can simply bestow self-esteem? Self-esteem is not a commodity which can be handed out like a classroom assignment.

Self-esteem comes from allowing a child to succeed or fail.

When a child fails, this is not a tragedy. It is an opportunity for parents and, yes, teachers to encourage, instruct and support the child to ultimately succeed. It’s only when a child achieves for himself or herself that true self-esteem is effected.


When a child succeeds, it is another opportunity to reinforce the hard work and dedication which led to that success. To win gracefully and with humility can only be taught if a child is allowed to experience both failure and victory. Without that perspective, you have an empty child.

So what does banning tag have to do with all of this?

Simply, it is a denial of children’s right to be children.

In Spokane, a third-grade student, Kubby Boyd, felt so strongly about having tag taken away at recess he started a petition to reinstate the game he and his friends enjoy so much. He included a caveat that penalties be assessed to those who were too rough.

His conditional petition was rejected. End of story. If anything, Kubby got a taste of the real world.

It appears the real world is one where government and authority feel the need to control every aspect of your life. Before this Orwellian intrusion, many of us actually rode in cars without air bags, made go karts with no brakes, drank water from a garden hose, took medicine without a kid-proof lid and slept in cribs with lead-based paint. Some of us actually got cuts, scrapes, bruises and the occasional broken bone while playing with our friends.

I know it comes as a shock, but we lived through it and, in some ways, these experiences made us stronger. It’s too bad Kubby will only be able to read about such things instead of living them.

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