By now you’ve probably heard about the middle school in Long Island that banned balls.
Let’s just put aside, for one minute, the notion that a middle enacted a policy that included the words “banned balls” and expected to not have people make fun of it. I am not what society, or my college, or my family or friends would call a “smart man,” but I have to think that were I in a meeting with other administrators, teachers and educational professionals, if the talk turned to a directive that “banned balls,” the unspoken tension would at some point grow so unbearable that someone would have to throw up his hand and be like, “Y’ALL KNOW THIS WILL GO IMMEDIATELY VIRAL, RIGHT? Because not only are you banning balls, you’re banning balls with a policy that includes the phrase ‘banning balls?’” I also like to this this person is me, obviously, though as a rule I don’t spend a lot of time fantasizing about education board meetings.
Anyway, administrators at Weber Middle School in Port Washington, Long Island, announced last week a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls and rowdy games of tag. Now I don’t know what kind of elementary school you went to, but I think I speak for all of us when I say, wait how many lacrosse balls do you guys have lying around Weber Middle School, exactly? Is lacrosse big around the kids now? You could have enacted a lacrosse-ball ban in my middle school by locking about one closet door. I’ve obviously got a lot to learn before my little man hits middle school; I should check to make sure jai alai isn’t making a comeback, too.
Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a rowdy game of tag, but I guarantee I’ve never been involved in a not-rowdy game of tag. What would that word even be, what’s the antonym for rowdy in a tag-related context? Sleepy game of tag? Slumberous game of tag? Languorous game of tag? Related: Did you guys know how many thesaurus sites there are on the Internet? It’s like a million.
Also banned: cartwheels, though only cartwheels that are not “supervised by a coach.” Ah, who can forget the cartwheel supervisor in their middle school? I know schools are being forced into across-the-board cutbacks; I do hope they’re able to hang onto all of their cartwheel supervisors.
In a statement the school said that due to a construction project taking place on school grounds, there is “limited space for students to enjoy a 20-minute recess period. With children in such close proximity to each other, it is not safe for them to be engaged in unstructured play with hardballs.” Has anyone in Long Island heard of Nerf? They’re kind of big now, but whatever.
Page 2 of 2 - Anyway, much like a local federal government I can think of, nobody likes this rule, which is fine, it’s dumb rule. But how does this rule get through a series of committee meetings, and adult conversations and actual meeting-bringings-up-to without anybody realizing that it’s going to be A HUGE THING? it’s the precise sort of story that’s gonna go immediately everywhere; the Internet is made for this sort of silliness. It’s a story that merges the iron fist of justice ruining another part of childhood — ball games, and pain — mixed with silly institutional overreach mixed with a phrase that will make everyone who has ever been a seventh grader giggle for a few seconds, regardless of who’s looking or how much in church they are. Please, America, think about these sorts of things when you start banning balls.
Jeff Vrabel is a writer who TAG, YOU’RE IT. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com and followed at http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.