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District Reverses Ban on Dodgeball-Esque 'Human-Target' Games

Fear not, Windham (N.H.) school district students. You're once again free to pelt one another with foam balls.

The Windham school board voted on Tuesday night to reverse course on a ban on dodgeball-style human-target games during physical education classes. Back in March, the school board voted 4-1 to ban such games from the curriculum, citing the possibility of students ganging up on a particular student.

The board partially justified its original decision based on a 2006 position from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, which said that dodgeball "is not an appropriate activity for K-12 school physical education programs," as it provides "limited opportunities for everyone in the class, especially the slower, less agile students who need activity the most." A committee of physical education teachers evaluated the role of human-target games in the district's curricula (10 total), and concluded that NASPE's opposition to such games "supersedes any and all curriculum standards that are met with these games as currently designed," according to its report to the board in March.

My, how three months changes things.

After further review, the committee "reached a decision that the inclusion of the games suggested in the initial review be implemented as deemed appropriate by the professional staff," according to the report presented to the board on Tuesday.

That decision comes with two major caveats:

  • Each human-target game recommended by the committee now features a "differentiated activity," such as working out in the cardio room, for students who opt out of participating in the games.
  • The game of "dodgeball," specifically, "was not part" of the district's curriculum, according to the committee. The games in the district's curriculum maintain components of dodgeball, but aren't an exact match of the official rules of dodgeball. "Therefore, [dodgeball] is not recommended by this committee nor was ever part of the initial study conducted," the report concludes.

The committee also agreed to rename some of the more violent-sounding games. What was once known as "Prison Ball" will now be called "Rescue Me!," the game "Slaughter" was changed to "Numero Uno," and "Four Corner Bombardment" switched to "Four Corner Invasion."

More than 400 Windham students signed petitions opposing the decision to originally ban such games, according to The Eagle-Tribune.

"This was all about kids being bullied," said board member Dennis Senibaldi, the only board member to originally oppose the ban, to the paper. "If kids are being bullied, it's the teacher's job to step in and rectify it. Don't eliminate an entire class of games. Getting rid of the games wasn't the way to handle the problem, if there was a problem."

Now, let's just hope the students have brushed up on their ability to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and... dodge.

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