Monday, May 4, 2009

The Wussification of America?

Although I think George Carlin said it better when he called it the "pussification of America"

If you don't already know, Real Sports on HBO is one of the best sports shows in America. They are not afraid of the tough topics, and they ask the hard questions. The best part is the analytical, neutral presentation of stories. but enough about them, on to the videos.

Real Sports reporter Bernard Goldberg recently updated a story he did several years ago about the movement in schools to ban dodge ball. That's right, DODGE BALL. You will also see that individuals not only want to ban dodge ball, but all competitive sports from physical education classes on the grounds that it hurts and humiliates young children. However, you will see that this issue is much more bigger than dodge ball.

Let's just take this down Fire Joe Morgan style. After that I'll offer some of my opinions.

1:15 Neil Williams: Great, so we bring in the academics to fix the educational system (pet peeve). For the record, we called the game bombardment. But Neil, lets get real for a second. We are talking about the same kids who go home and play video games where they can take a chainsaw to pedestrians and blow off the heads of aliens. Do you really think bombardment is going to ruin their fragile little minds.

1:50 Paul Zantarsky: Awesome, we receive the infinite wisdom of a P.E teacher. On a certain level I agree with him. I wouldn't FIRE teachers who include dodge ball, but I do think that physical education should progress beyond the "roll out the ball approach." He also claims that it "creates bullies because you go after the smaller, weaker players." 1. Well I don't know if ole Paul has ever been a good dodge ball player, but everyone knows you wait for the other team to waste their balls, gather them up, and use teamwork to attack the better players, THEN you go after everyone else. 2. If you think about it, how is dodgeball any different than any other sport? Shit in football we look for the weak link in a defense to attack. Basketball? Shoot if I'm manned up against Icehouse, and all other players are equal, guess who gets the ball? (Hint: Icehouse) So Paul, by your logic we should eliminate all competitive sports from the lives of children? (more on this later)

2:45 Matt Labash: Ahhh yes, enter the meathead who is opposed to eliminating dodge ball. Although I think this issue shouldn't be politicized, it doesn't help that he writes for The Weekly Standard. And there it is: "The wussification of America" Smart move playing to your base.

Aggression begets more aggression? Big word for a P.E teacher, but no, you're right, we should just suppress any type of aggressive feeling and let it build up inside of us. Aggression isn't natural or anything, we weren't wired that way through years of evolution. so yeah, suppress that shit.

Part 2

05: always check your 9 and 3 after throwing a ball. ALWAYS.

15: New PE, sounds cool....wait they want to move away from competitive games? Seriously?

26: Square dancing and balloon tossing. Yep they are pretty damn serious.

45: Such a badass.

55: Overlooking the fact that musical chairs is largely based on luck, perhaps those children should pay attention. Just a thought.

1:21 Hey Mr. Badass, humiliation isn't a good thing. Furthermore its dependent upon how children perceive their actions. Meaning if I'm a D-bag teacher I could theoretically make everyone feel like shit, but what would that accomplish? I agree with the idea that competition is a good idea, but humiliation is simply the wrong word. In regards to the lessons we are trying to teach. Humiliation, no. Failure, maybe. Working hard but not being the best, yes.

1:57: Ok now we're just getting silly. The point of skipping rope is to develop hand eye coordination along with agility. Now I jump this "rope" fairly often. And you know what? Sometimes I screw up. When I do screw up I know what I did wrong. Furthermore, the "rope" forces me to make sure my jumps are high enough and coordinated. You oppose to just jumping up and down like a jackass. This has to be the dumbest idea I've ever hear of.....

Wait, that was only the second worse idea.

3:28-end: /Vomit

Hopefully you'll realize this is not a left or right issue. I'll agree with Labash on a couple of points. First, this is much more than dodgeball, or sports for that matter. Look at the Spelling Bee. Those kids study their ass off. Most of them "fail" at their goal of winning. Are they upset? Hell yeah they are. But guess what? Those kids are going to be fine and grow from this experience. Which brings me to Labash. Using the word humiliation is probably the wrong thing. The best thing about sports, or life in general is that sometimes we fail, but we all learn from those experiences. And I totally agree that this whole dodgeball thing is screwing kids up for the rest of their life. I mean what happens when they are faced with adversity. Something like...oh I don't know AN ECONOMIC CRISIS.

The new PE thing is fine on the surface. Like I said I think schools should move beyond the whole roll out the ball approach to PE, but shit, no competition? The other thing I'll mention is that if you notice two of the schools have rock climbing walls. I'm sure that type of shit is on the top of the list for most school districts who are facing multi-million dollar deficits.

Finally, Principal Hollingsworth. Barf.

Shit I don't know how we all made it through grade school with bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, bloody noses, fights, dead legs, quarters, bloody knuckles, tackle football, smear the queer, buts up, high fives, girls, pats on the back, ass slaps, piggy back rides, video games, biology class, high powered vehicles, alcohol, fireworks, homemade bombs, school, sports.

And of course dodgeball.


  1. The most humiliated I ever got in grade school was when I lost in the Spelling Bee.

    Why not do away with grades, also? Doesn't an F student feel stupider than an A student? That's humiliation!

  2. I've never been as embarrassed as when I tripped over my untied shoelaces during graduation ceremony for elementary school.

    Do away with non-Velcro shoes and you must be at least 18 to participate in graduation. wait shit, then that makes kids feel bad for not being 18, okay do away with graduation all together this way the winners feel like loser and the losers feel like winners!

  3. I reiterate my first comment...

  4. You guys are fucked, dodge ball is a terrible sport that only leads to injury and the humiliation of children. Yes I agree that all kids need to experience and cope with winning/losing as well as hard times but take 5 year old Billy from the play ground who cries hysterically when he loses his action figure. Now hit Billy in the face with that action figure and that's what dodge ball and underage competition. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven for our children in order to learn and grow, not get mocked and basically beat up by the class bully while all friends and teachers watch and laugh. We need to make an effort to help our kids progress, not continuously involve them in such brutalities. There are other ways to teach these lessons without abusing the kids at such a young age.

    you make the argument of a "D Bag" teacher making the kids all feel bad about themselves but the truth is a teacher like that would be discovered and fired immediately if they were even able to make it through the screening process. Just because you want to toughen our kids to some ridiculous standard doesn't mean we should beat them up in order to do it.

  5. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying fire the teachers who allow dodge ball but it certainly should be cause for serious reprimand.

  6. What about an opt-in, Anonymous? You know, if you want to play dodgeball you can stay here, if you don't we can go do whatever it is that would be acceptable by your standards?

  7. This is what has been happening, the boys play ball and the girls jump rope. Even still, you cannot present kids with options that involve violence, they will choose the violent path 9 out of 10 times. I apologize that the name of the study escapes be but a while back there was, well, a study done show the violent tendencies of children and all that happened was psychologists put an inflatable "bop em" toy in the room, some toys and a toy hammer. I forget the exact number, apologies again for the spotty reference, but the majority of the kids ended up beating the "bop em" toy with the hammer with in minutes.

    All this is towards the point of, if you give kids a chance to be violent they will be violent. By using an "opt-in" approach to school games we are not really giving the kids a chance to say no to violent games such as dodge ball.

    However, the issue is not limited to dodge ball but the entire subject of involving children in competition at all. Though dodge ball is a particularly violent game. We can find more humane ways that teach the same values and life lessons with out the, what this site apparently calls, the "perks" of laughing at children in the process.

  8. Anon thanks for the post:

    Dodgeball is not terrible. I still fail to realize how it is so bad. If we use your logic then every sport, nay, activity that determines winners and losers is (as you so aptly put) "Fucked"

    The first thing I ask is if you even watched the video? In my opinion the new PE movement essentially wants to do away with all of these "other ways of teaching lessons" that you speak of.

    Next, you may have not caught the sarcasm that I plastered on rather thick, however I am not really *for* dodgeball. I agree in a physical education environment dodgeball is rather worthless. However, I'll be damned if they pull ANY type of competition out of the school system. Sports related or not.

    D-bag teachers. I ask if you have any experience with the current American education experience. If you are not aware, let me inform you. Typically in public schools new teachers have a three year window when they are not tenured. This essentially means that during those first three years they need to try not to screw up. After those three years they will/will not be offered tenure. So that is the "screening process" you speak of. After those three years If said teacher is tenured it would take a major f-up on their part to lose their job. Compound this with the fact that teacher unions have school districts by the dodgeball sacks, and you can see that it is extremely difficult to fire teachers who are d-bags. So I say again short of a sex/hazing scandal (obviously the "screening process" missed those teachers) it is extremely difficult to fire a teacher who has been there 3+ years. As a principle your best hope is to get them relocated in the district.

    Now, lets move on to humiliation. I don't know if you understood my point, but I was trying to say the game/activity/class isn't the problem it is the teacher. So using your example we have billy getting knocked in the head with an action figure. (which I still fail to realize how this relates to dodgeball, or the relevant discussion) But lets just use it. Billy gets knocked in the head with an action figure. Teacher A points and laughs, calls billy a big p**sy. Teacher B. reprimands the child who threw the toy, talks to the children about proper manners/ societal norms. Follow my logic? its not the activity, its the teacher who determines how the activity is perceived. There is no difference between the gym teacher who views dodgeball as primitive combat and the History teacher that makes fun of a student for getting an F on their mid term exam. (And I say again, I'm completely against Labash, if you picked up on my sarcasm you can see that I make fun of him in several sections of the video)

    Like I tried to make PLAINLY clear, this whole discussion really isn't about dodgeball, or PE for that matter. It's about whether or not WE think its ok to remove all forms of failure from our school systems. If you want to, no problem. I'd strongly disagree with you, but hey that's your opinion.

    People view sports as a platform of the HAVES and HAVE NOTS. But again I'll ask. Is this any different than regular education? Well in my opinion its how you perceive it. If you think jocks should stick to sports and nerds should stick to school. Fine. However I think every student is teachable regardless of ability. The un-athletic can better themselves through athletics and the meat-head jocks can better themselves through traditional education. Call me idealistic but I believe in wholistic education where every student has potential. And in my opinion, if you disagree perhaps you are the one who is fucked.

  9. Whoa, whoa, I could have sworn that your argument to begin with was that kids need a safe haven, now you're saying that most kids CHOOSE to play dodgeball?

    I believe that you've read many studies on the subject, but there is a fair amount of reaching here. You're telling me that kids will attempt to use a toy hammer to hit something? I did that all the time growing up, but that's because I was imitating my dad, who was fixing the roof at the time.

    But for consistency's sake, are you arguing that dodgeball is too violent, or that competitive sports only serves to humiliate the weak? There's a disconnect that I'm trying to understand.

  10. Anon: sorry I was typing up my comment so I didnt see your recent post.

    I either have read the study you are referring to, or have read similar ones, so I know where you are coming from.

    I may not be PC but I'm totally against repressing aggression with children. The first problem is that we all like to view aggression as the big guy going to town on the little guy. I view it slightly differently. I think aggression is not backing down from a challenge, attacking problems, and facing your fears. But that's just semantics so we'll leave it at that.

    However for every study you cite I can find another that shows young children (boys in particular) are being repressed in school systems. Specifically they are not allowed to rough house, run around, have fun, and generally be young boys. The studies show that allowing the "boys will be boys" mentality actually decreases aggression/violent crimes in later years. (because they realize violence is typically an illogical solution, and they dont have pent up aggression) But again it's research and there are two sides to every study.

    Personally I think students should be allowed to exhibit aggression (again semantics) it's a natural and healthy emotion we have and to force students to burry that away would be a disservice to them.

    Also if you think "boys play ball and girls jump rope" you are woefully, WOEFULLY misinformed.

  11. Anybody want to play dodge ball for pinks? your SOUL?!

    btw...this sounds like a blatant attempt to make all kids created equal, which as nice as this sounds is not the case. We need games like dodge ball to create the cast system that is popularity. The strong are popular in school and get the babes later on while the weak get picked on are usually nerdy and don't get tail until their acne clears up.

    Here is some science to show that teachers have the power to teach our kids right and wrong and still dodge some balls...wait...poor choice of words

  12. sorry.

    although this study speaks mainly about getting people to do violent things, the same can be said for teaching people NOT to do violent things.

  13. And let me make this CRYSTAL CLEAR (in case you missed it in the post) I don't think dodgeball is good. Again I think we should move away from the whole "lets play a random sport because we have nothing better to do" curriculum. I just dont think it's so terrible.

  14. for this discussion we should also make a distinction between "aggression" and "anti-social behavior" before it goes into the whole killing cats thing.

  15. Thanks Steve, we are teetering on that line aren't we.

    Ice, The point of the study was to show the child's willingness to act violently. The hammer was placed non obviously in the room and the child inherently knew to use it not to hammer toy nails into the toy board like dad might have done but to beat in the "bop-ems" face in. Without going to the potentially homicidal arguments that raises, I was using that as an example to argue against the "Opt in" proposal you had mentioned in your earlier post. If you say "throw a ball at each other" or play something "safer" like choosing candy over broccoli the child will do it just about every time.

    Steve: I am familiar with the tenure process in schools these days and also realize that not every teacher makes a positive difference in the life of their students. Some actually can make kids life down right miserable, I have had a few. It's the very nature of the competition at a young age that I have a problem with. Kids do not have the emotional capability to understand that it's just a game. You can see this effect as you watch them play, children will run themselves into the ground trying to compete but when it comes to trophy time and you watch one group of kids get a a big award while the other side simply gets the consolation ribbon the negative effects of competition begin.

    All and all competition in the later years is a good thing, teachers mature young adults to handle winning/loosing, good times/bad times professionally and helps teach those life values. Until children are able to understand and handle the effects of winning and losing they should all be taught about trying to leave no one behind, make no loser, help everyone to win mentality. These are the characteristics we need to teach our children.

  16. Potential Caption Contest: any picture having to do with dodge ball.

  17. Anon:

    I think on some level we are in agreement. We've all had a-hole teachers and as a result both you and I were obviously turned off by them. However this is the point I was trying to get across. Competition is not nescesarrily a bad thing,IF, and I do mean if, the teacher frames it right. For the sake of discussion lets imagine Emily gets first place and Jenny gets last. Well I could sit here and tell Jenny that she is a loser and will never succeed. Or I could sit down with Jenny, examine what she did well, and also talk to her on how she can improve. Again the burden is on the teacher but that doesn't mean we have to eliminate competition at all.

    I will have to disagree with you on not having competition at a young age. Young children today are remarkably observant. You claim that they don't understand the concept that it's just a game. Again, that's on the teacher, however I would also ask you to play a game like soccer and not keep score. You can bet those kids know who won and lost that game. Going back to the video. Look at balloon tossing. Again those kids know exactly who performed well and who faltered. I think my main point is that you can't take a natural human emotion/instinct and try to remove it for the sake of "feelings." I also think that it is more important to emphasize the journey rather than the result. Meaning If A child works their butt off to achieve a goal, that is all you can ask, and it truly is a noble achievement. At the end of the day as long as we emphasize work ethic over the end result I think we'll be ok.

    Finally, for the studies you cite a contrarian view would be Dr. Lenord Sax Boys Adrift.

    It really doesn't address the aggression issue you are talking about, but it does talk about suppressing some natural emotions that boys have at a young age. It also talks about the lack of competition/expectations in the school system. Again, it's just a starting point but it may lead you into other scholarly work on the subject.

    Anyway, I feel like it's an important discussion, and we appreciate your responses.

    Sometimes its nice for us on GRH to get away from our cheap humor. (Don't worry it will return tomorrow)

  18. Anon:

    Sorry again, Ice and I are picking on you. But I tried to find that study you cited. (I have no idea if it's the exact one you looked at) but I really fail to see the point. I'll step down from the scholarly stool and claim that If you put a bop em toy with kids and hammers, what do you really think is going to happen? Shoot if you put me in a room with an inflatable toy for several hours I'd start knocking the crap out of that thing. This goes back to my natural emotion/response approach. However from your reasoning in that study (again dont know if it was the same one) Literally all sports should be eliminated because they all induce some type of violent response. This is the disconnect I'm (maybe Icehouse) missing. So the kids hit the bop em toy with a what? Does that mean they are psychopaths, bullies, murderers, rapists? The study I looked at never made a long term prediction/conclusion. Which makes me skeptical. But again what's the point? At that age, most kids would hit the crap out of the thing(looking at the study they were most likely bored) but I really don't see the point of the whole thing.

    To put it another way, If I put a soccer ball in a room with kids for several hours, what do you think is going to happen? They'll probably kick the crap out of it. They are kids. Let them have some fun.

  19. I remember in elementary school we had a 'May Day' of some sort, I'm sure most of you also had this. Where the class would compete in a series of activities and the top performers got ribbons. I remember in 3rd grade they switched to where everyone got a 'participation ribbon'. No matter what the ribbons said, kids still knew who won. Just like with the rock climbing wall. You really think kids don't try to get to the top? Do you think the kids that don't make it to the top fell as good about themselves as the kids who do? No, they feel just as bad. But they know they can better. Kids will brag about sports, just like they brag about grades.

    Smart kids laugh at stupid kids, and athletic kids laugh at the nonathletic. If you take away competition out of the classroom, you might as well take it away in the classroom. Give everyone a 'participation A'. If you take away the recognition of 'failure', then there is no drive for improvement. If you suck at a sport and you want to get better, GET BETTER. If you suck at school, STUDY. Taking away rewarding those who excel, takes away from the betterment of a child. Because in the real world, if someone is better than you in a certain field, they will go farther than you in that field. This argument is absurd.

    AND for the record, kids who jump rope will (and, by God, should) make fun of kids who jump imaginary rope. What a bunch of fruits.

  20. Lattimer: sorry I repeated what you said, I didn't read your last two posts. But, completely agreed.