These Kids Have Balls!

Or at least they want them: Two Ottawa fifth graders have started a petition to be allowed to PLAY WITH BALLS ON THE PLAYGROUND.

The principal banned balls during the winter, because, she told the CBC , “They’ve  got snow stuck to them, they’re frozen, often there’s pebbles on them and they’re flying through the air.”

Balls flying through the air? My, my. Maybe the principal likes balls, but only when they’re sitting quietly in the corner, or rolling to the library to bounce ever so gently near the books.

The kids, meanwhile, have collected more than 250 signatures begging for the ball ban to be bonked on the head. Why? As one of the kids put it, “It’s really fun with the balls.”

Now who said kids were supposed to have fun in the winter? Tsk, tsk. Next thing you know, they’ll want to play outside after school instead of running home to turn on the TV. — Lenore

34 Responses

  1. I was allowed to play with basketballs, in elementary school! There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It was to fun not to have the them out!

  2. To be fair, I think the principal was objecting to the balls “flying through air” WHEN they were encrusted with hard snow and pebbles. Getting hit by something like that can HURT!

    But nonetheless, banning balls from a playground is just surreal.

  3. And seriously, I grew up in Pennsylvania, where we get decent amounts of snow, and I don’t remember balls turning into rock-weapons in winter. If you plow the playground and take the balls inside after recess, how would that happen? So it’s just dumb.

  4. Sounds like something happened once (a kid got knocked with an “encrusted ball,” which I can’t even type with a straight face), someone complained, and the principal responded by banning ball play.

    Concussions? I’ve been a teacher in Alaska (we’d go to Ottawa for a tropical vacation) for six years and have seen kids bopped with playground balls… and if anything it’s a few tears, a hug, and an ice pack for the psychological healing effect. Perhaps some time in the office, soaking up a little adult attention, maybe a call home for Mom or Dad to say, “Are you OK? I’ll see you at the end of the day.” Are they throwing tiny bowling balls at each other?

    I can see having guidelines for baseballs and the like (only played with in a specific area, for example), because those can really clock an unsuspecting stander-by. But bouncy playground balls? Pfft.

  5. Has the principal confused balls with shot puts?

  6. That reminds me of the fellow playgroup mother who did not want the 2-year-olds to play with blocks, because they might throw them at each other.

  7. It must really stink to be a kid nowadays. We used to make snow forts and tunnels and throw snowballs (oh my!) and “kidnap” each other for ransoms! We climbed lots of trees and the only thing I remember getting hurt was the tree….a broken limb! And yeah, sometimes we got hit in the face with a ball and it hurt made us cry a little. But a hug and few minutes with mom made it all better and we were ready to go at it again. Kids today aren’t any different, except for the fact that they’re no longer allowed to be kids!

  8. Good grief! Ban balls “til winter is over”. So in Ottawa that’d mean what? Getting to play with balls on the playground in September, and again in May and June? Ridiculous!

  9. I teach at a school in Portland, OR. We have our fair share of helicopter parents.

    I’m proud to say, though, when I read our safety committee minutes, most of the preventative measures section reads: “None. Injury inherent to activity.”

    Most of the injury reports are for things that happen during lunch recess (in the gym and outside) or in PE, thus inherent to the activity.

    I remember when I was in 6th grade (1992). During recess the PE teacher would set up gymnastic trampolines (small square ones, very springy) in front of the basketball hoops. We would use nerf balls and launch ourselves at the hoop and do dunk contests! There were pads underneath the hoop for when we came down. It was AWESOME! =)

  10. Are you sure she meant balls, and not hockey pucks?

    I have a friend who’s from Ottawa, and he laughed when I showed him the artricle. Sure, throwing a ball might get you a cold, wet, snowy smack in the face, but hey, that was part of the fun! Now, hockey pucks were a no-no, as they can cause some serious damage, but he said they tossed them, too. It just took more skill and cunning to dodge getting whacked, and as long as you were still conscious, you’d just go back to playing.

  11. Daddio2B, I love that “injury inherent to activity” bit. It’s so true and something parents and school administrators need to accept. Kids get hurt, mostly in minor ways. It’s not that bad for them.

  12. I was just up in Wisconsin talking at a Waldorf School Conference. It was 15 deg. The snow was everywhere. The kids went outside for recess everyday. They put on their snow pants and coats and hats and gloves and went outside and PLAYED! With balls made of encrusted snow even! They all came back inside rejuvenated and ready to sit for the afternoon’s lessons.

  13. So much for my sport, kickball…..

  14. Well, I grew up in Ottawa, and if you ask me, the most fun in the winter time was playing “king of the hill” on the mound of snow pushed off the playground. I never did understand why they ploughed the asphalt portions of playground, but they did.

    My sister, brother and parents are still there, and from all accounts, the schools have gone crazy with rules. I believe there are schools that have banned recess outdoors altogether, others where you can’t run at recess. So, no balls at recess sounds positively sane in that context.

    I blame the insurance companies, who are surely behind it. And behind them, I blame parents who have sued because their precious angel got a black eye. And then, I think it makes sense to blame our litigious neighbours to the south, who showed us that you should sue for every possible accident.

    It’s ridiculous, really. We’re on a train careening to a place where I don’t want to be, and it requires everyone to stand up at once and say, “hang on, I’m not going to act just for myself, because I can see the long term consequences. So, I’m going to be responsible for me, and I understand that accidents happen and that nobody’s to blame.” The thing is, I can’t see how we make everyone stand up at once.

  15. If the principal’s issue was the state of the balls, why weren’t the playground toys being stored properly in the first place? If these students had been taught to be responsible with their equpiment- and that rule had been enforced- then the balls had been put away – there would be NO issue here! Sounds like pure laziness on the teaching staff part at the students’ expense!

  16. They’d better watch out…instead of balls those kids are gonna be playing with ice balls…or rocks! And man oh man do those hurt even worse. I remember we used to play a game called Red Rover, everyone would link arms on opposing sides of the play lot and shout “red rover red rover send janey right over”…until the day my friend broke her wrist. Then they *banned* Red Rover! For *years*! Now balls are banned? What next–can’t play hopscotch because someone might get pegged with a loose pebble?

  17. My reading of this is not that the balls are flying through the air. The balls get encrusted with snow and pebbles, which causes the pebbles to knock off and fly through the air. That probably did happen once, and now they’re lawsuit-fearful.

    In all fairness, I grew up in snow in the sixties. We didn’t have balls out on snowy days, either. Then again, we were allowed to actually play in the snow–sliding around, etc. That probably isn’t allowed now either.

  18. Oh, good grief. Getting hit with a basketball or a baseball (even a softball) or a soccer ball already hurts, with or without encrusted snow and pebbles. Honest, it doesn’t make any significant difference. [sigh] The principal needs to relax, have a nice cup of tea, and let the kids play.

    Angie

  19. Funny. Now I imagine the principal making those kids sign a no liability agreement every time they want to play…

  20. What do they get instead… shards of glass?!

    How silly. Has this principal ever met any (gasp) children?

  21. I think the principal has confused balls with the “old fashion” game of Jarts Lawn Darts. Danger, danger.

    I grew up playing Jarts in our backyard and I still have all my limbs as well as 2 eyes. I do believe the game is no longer made or is illegal or something like that.

    Comedians sure could have a field day with this topic.

    I will say that I am Team Conan and now Team Balls! Goooo team!

  22. This story is so depressing. My children go to another school in the same school board and I’m really starting to feel there’s just no hope for them in this city! My thinking is that this issue wouldn’t even have come up if the school board hadn’t already banned snowball throwing, ice sliding and snow mountain climbing. Actually, my son tells me they haven’t actually banned the last two but there’s so much salt thrown down on the ice (you know, to keep it safe) and so much snow trucked away, that it really isn’t as much fun as it was when I was a kid. Remember the good old days? Okay, I will admit to an occasional ice ball thrown in the face and a couple of boots to the head when other kids timed their ice slide badly and I wasn’t out of the way yet, and there were probably a few falls down the snow mountain, but still it was way more fun and I don’t remember anyone getting seriously hurt. Anyway, my long winded point is that if kids were still allowed to do any of the fun things that come naturally in the winter, they wouldn’t even want to be playing with balls right now.

  23. @Into the Wild – No, it’s definitely balls. According to the article in the Ottawa Citizen this morning, it’s basketballs.

    There’s a silver lining in this – every single time something like this happens, Lenore and this blog get quoted. It feels like free publicity!

  24. So instead of throwing balls encrusted with gravel & whatnot, they’ll just throw snowballs made of those items instead.

  25. well, here they’ve banned even holding a snowball, much less throwing one.

  26. Yeesh, first they ban snowballs and now this? What exactly are kids supposed to do all winter?

  27. […] week an Ottawa school, D. Roy Kennedy Public School, has been in the news and featured on the Free Range Kids blog because a group of students started a petition to reverse a ban on playing with balls at recess in […]

  28. Let the kids play with their balls, dammit!

    I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

  29. I don’t think there’s any valid reason to ban balls from playgrounds (what a ludicrous idea!), regardless of the weather. Still, I rarely see kids playing with balls when there’s snow outside (and so much fun to be had with it), so this petition is somewhat unusual – but it’s great that these children stick up for something important to them! I wonder whether people think that children are too stupid to notice when something is bad for them – of course, they won’t, growing up in this kids of ridiculously regulated environment, but under normal circumstances, most sane kids will come up with another activity that does not involve getting hit by pebble-encrusted balls as soon as that gets unpleasant. After all, that’s called learning, and shielding them from those experiences will only serve to make irrational adults out of them.

  30. Just chiming in, as a school director, that this sort of conflict drives me crazy. We encourage our kids to play ball, run, play tag, etc (and actually one of our parents told me at their last school they were not allowed to play tag). All that said, we’re closely advised by our insurance company that these areas are nearing the red since they are “dangerous” because of litigation. We have seen it happen when parents do not believe in letting their children make mistakes. So, the principal’s hands may be tied with a large and thick chain. It’s very unfortunate that society has come to this. I think if we got the litigious aspect out of the way we might start moving in the right direction.

  31. Encrusted balls? I live in Michigan and I’ve never seen this.

    I’m glad my daughter’s school lets them play with balls, because they aren’t allowed to play with snow, so otherwise they’d have nothing to do at recess all winter. “All snow must stay on the ground.” They can’t pick it up, make a snowman, or anything else with it. And certainly not throw a snowball, which I imagine is the root of the rule.

  32. Put the balls away. How much more evidence to you need to see that they are dangerous?

  33. Funny story🙂
    Never had that situation when i was in school.

  34. Daddio2B, I love that “injury inherent to activity” bit. It’s so true and something parents and school administrators need to accept. Kids get hurt, mostly in minor ways. It’s not that bad for them.

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