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Dodgeball Critics: Game Promotes School Violence and Bullying

Educators have long questioned whether the aggressive game dodgeball is appropriate in a school setting. And with a recent increased focus on school climate, the question has now become: Does dodgeball encourage bullying and violence?

Cast your vote here!

Many K-12 schools have already bounced dodgeball from P.E. classes and playgrounds, deeming it harmful.

A New York Times article notes that the game is often called “murder ball” or “killer ball,” adding further negative connotations to the activity.

At right, players compete in the Lansing (MI) Area Credit Unions Coed Dodgeball Tournament (photo courtesy of Wayiran).

Diane Farr, a curriculum specialist in Austin, TX, told The Times she believes dodgeball should not be played in today’s schools. Her district, Austin Independent, banned the game years ago.

“With Columbine and all the violence that we are having, we have to be very careful with how we teach our children,” Farr said in the article.

Reader Kim Collins, in response to an opinion piece defending the controversial game, shared her negative school experiences: “I was often targeted at dodgeball. I would leave class with bruises all over my body because a few of the stronger kids just didn’t like me. Physically targeting and hurting another person because you don’t like them is bullying, [even when] sanctioned by the school. [Dodegball is] a horrible game that allows the weak and unpopular kids to be physically harmed and victimized by others.”

The National Association of Sport and Physical Education has cited additional reasons for dropping dodgeball. This type of “elimination” game doesn’t keep all players involved and physically active, and may also disproportionately discourage slower students who don’t catch as well.

NASPE spokeswoman Paula Kun told The Times, “There is a place in this world for dodgeball, like birthday parties and picnics. But we do not believe it belongs in a quality physical education program.”

Some dodgeball proponents may argue that with the proper rules and adult supervision in place, the game can still be played appropriately. Schools also can use “no-sting” balls made specifically to reduce the chance of injury.

The controversy is unlikely to go away anytime soon, however. Watch ESPN SportsNation’s humorous take on the debate:

What do you think?

Does dodgeball promote a school climate that condones bullying and violence? Cast your vote here and/or weigh in using the comments section below.


Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor
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Copyright © 2014 Education World

Does dodgeball create a school climate that condones bullying?

Yes, and schools should ban it.
31% (99 votes)
Only if there are other problems with the school's climate. It's still possible to play the game appropriately.
38% (122 votes)
No. Kids should be able to play the game in school.
31% (97 votes)
Total votes: 318