Tag, You're Out (Of the Playground)

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

A Massachusetts school district made national headlines Wednesday, when its leaders shocked the country by banning tag on its plagrounds during recess.

Wait a minute ... isn't tag already banned on some Madison playgrounds?

"We don't allow tag or chase games here," said John Burkeholder, Madison Midvale elementary principal.

Burkeholder says tag or 'chase games' are not allowed during recess, because they're too dangerous.

"It gets pretty crowded out here and to have kids running through the crowds, running through the games that are taking place, that can cause a dangerous situation," said Burkeholder.

With the threat of injury comes the threat of law suits.

And Burkeholder says tag is just too risky to allow.

Much to the dismay of parents like Joanne Gabriel.

"Probably since time began, kids have been chasing each other around and playing," said Gabriel, whose two kids go to Madison's Chavez elementary school, "that's how they learn to interact with eachother."

Gabriel says her two elementary-aged sons have enough structure already: both during the school day and after, with sports like swimming.

She says trying too hard to protect children at every step of their day can be counterproductive, rendering them helpless to deal with problems themselves.

Furthermore, Gabriel says recess is supposed to be the one time of the school day, when kids don't have to deal with excessive rules and restrictions.

"When do they really get to play?" said Gabriel. "When do they get to let their hair down and be wild and crazy? Which kids really need to do."

To be fair, Burkeholder says running is allowed.

So are organized games like touch football, under a program called "Peaceful Playgrounds."

But with the ever-present threat of law suits, he says some things just can't be allowed.

"The bloody lip isn't just going to the nurse, getting fixed up and sent back to class," said Burkeholder, "it could result in a legal fight on your hands that you don't want to have."

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