2002.11.27 Too late for dodge ball

Written by David Green.


Some people complain about being born too late. They look back at the way things were a few generations ago and they wish they could have been a part of it.

For others it’s just the opposite. Born too early, they didn’t have the opportunity to take part in what’s available now. There were no jet airplanes/TVs/computers, etc. available when they grew up.

The too late/too early dilemma entered my mind during this season of football. In regard to the so-called pigskin, I guess I was born at just the right time. No regrets, other than the fact that I scored only two touchdowns.

I still think I was cheated out of another one during an eighth grade game, but superintendent Henry Geisler, serving as referee, ruled that my forward motion was halted and the play was dead. Actually, I broke free and scored when those incompetent defenders couldn’t bring me down. Mr. Geisler acted too fast, but what can you do?

If I would have been born earlier, I’d have been part of an era when a football helmet had no face mask. If I’d been born a generation later, I would be part of the current era when football is a year ’round endeavor—at least for the dedicated players who are expected to hang out in the weight room all year and grow abnormally large necks.

Those guys are easy to spot and I know I wouldn’t want to be part of it. I notched six years of football during my era in the 1960s, but I wouldn’t make it these days. I don’t think I’d be the kind of football player that contemporary coaches would appreciate.

I suppose there are some kids today who think they were born too late. They missed the days when football started around Labor Day and ended in mid-November. That was it until Labor Day.

Some kids today were born too late for dodge ball. A few schools are dropping it from their gym classes. Now before you start complaining about “political correctness” and all that stuff, listen to the arguments.

First of all, dodge ball supporters say the game provides an opportunity to teach throwing mechanics, catching skills, agility, hand-eye coordination, and lateral and forward movement.

Is that what really happens? Physical education class is supposed to develop skills, but look what happens in dodge ball. The clumsy and the slow are the first ones to get hit. They aren’t learning anything by sitting on the sidelines, but that might just be where they feel most comfortable.

Dodge ball has made it onto some writer’s Gym Class Hall of Shame. It’s called a punishing game that pits “athletic kids against clumsy ones, aggressive against timid.”

In 1995 a PE task force suggested national standards for students in every grade to achieve. For someone in a small town, these guidelines might take a while to put into place. Get the buses lined up for field trips, too.

A 12th grader should be able to participate in a tennis match with some consistency; pass the Red Cross intermediate swimming requirements; navigate a kayak through white water; successfully play racquetball; demonstrate skills for a black belt in karate.

Here’s a quote from “The Death of Dodge Ball” in Northwest Education Magazine.

In schools where PE has managed to hang on, enlightened teachers are introducing kids to activities they can take with them through the years. Instead of dodging a hard rubber ball, kids are mastering cool moves on inline skates and cross-country skis.

Instead of doing a million jumping jacks, they're learning to maneuver mountain bikes, balance unicycles, bounce on pogo sticks, juggle plastic bowling pins—even manipulate wheelchairs with ease. They're paddling white-water kayaks. Dancing to Latin music. Fishing for rainbow trout. Climbing vertical rock walls.

 We wouldn’t have enough wheelchairs or pogo sticks to go around here in the small town.

And lacking trout, exposed bedrock and a white water river, I guess we’ll have to stick with football. Into the weight room we go.  You’ll know us by our necks.

    – Nov. 27, 2002 
  • Front.cowboy
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  • Front.base Ball
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  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
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    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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