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Author Topic: Physical education
scifibum
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I'm convinced. We need mandatory daily exercise periods in every grade for every kid, no namby-pamby exclusions for anyone who can stand and walk, and we need it like 10 years ago. We also need employers to start getting everybody lined up for mandatory exercise periods.

Link

This country needs pride in physical fitness. Forget about body image distortion and obsession with dieting and looking like a model, I'm talking about ability. We should all want to be able to run a mile and stand up straight when we're done.

Fixing our diets is really important, but I think we also need, as a matter of crucial national importance, to get our lazy asses in shape. We either keep getting worse until the early die-offs let Darwin fix the problem, or we wait for medical miracles to negate the problem, or institutionally, culturally, and politically, we insist that people get active. Parading skinny people in front of exercise machines hasn't been working.

I'm not suggesting we establish a national exercise enforcement administration, but I AM suggesting that public schools, which are already socialist institutions anyway, need to put a lot more emphasis on exercise. And that employers need to go ahead and drag people onto the exercise mat instead of using half-hearted measures like an online wellness guidance program. (They should feel enticed by the health plan savings and increased attendance and productivity.)

We'll just have to live with the B.O. at work and school and the fact that the chubby kids will feel sort of bad that exercise is harder for them than for the other kids.

Or am I overreacting?

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cperry
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I think you're right, but PE classes have GOT to get out of the business of competitive sports (which are not the answer for all kids) and offer more options, including yoga, aerobics, spinning, etc.
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cperry
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For more support -- PE turned me off exercise, because it gave my younger self the impression that the only way to "be physical" was to play basketball or tennis or something else. I just can't do projectiles. But if they'd let me lift weights, dance, or do aerobics, I think I'd have developed some lifelong habits of exercise instead of having to force myself to do it now. (Of course, that could be wrong, but still -- I hated PE as it used to be.)
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Jesse
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I hated PE for several reasons, one of which is that I got more actual exercise during recess in Elementary school than I got during the 15-20 minutes that were left once you discount - 10 minutes for passing period, 10 minutes to get into gym clothes, 10 minutes to get out of gym clothes and shower, 5 minutes of roll call and general PE teacher yammering, 5 minutes of passing out and collecting equipment.

"walk around the track for 50 minutes in your street clothes" would provide a lot more benefit.

[ October 30, 2008, 09:28 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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T:man
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PE is mandatory at our school, and I believe its very excersizie (ha ha love that word). We run around the track for 15 minutes then learn whatever we learn that day...
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Gaoics79
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quote:
I'm convinced. We need mandatory daily exercise periods in every grade for every kid, no namby-pamby exclusions for anyone who can stand and walk, and we need it like 10 years ago. We also need employers to start getting everybody lined up for mandatory exercise periods.
No. Screw the nanny state crap. There are plenty of developed western nations around the world that don't have forced fitness programs that are relatively thin and healthy. It's simply a fact that people can regulate their own weight without some massive regulation or forced program. Find another way.
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Jesse
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"Employers should do X in my opinion" is nanny state crap.
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Everard
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Was that to PE in school, or PE in the workplace, jason?
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Funean
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The rise of fat kids closely correlates with the imposition of gym class. It's not causative, of course, but it's clearly not working (and has the opposite effect on lots of kids, turning them off of physical activity permanently). The time kids spent running around the neighborhood or climbing trees or kicking cans around is now spent doing homework because they don't have enough hours of actual class time, what with all the extra crap that gets larded into the school day, like PE.
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scifibum
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Funean, do you think if we give kids more free time nowadays it'll result in more running around the neighborhood? My understanding is that kids spend more time than ever in front of TV and computer screens, goofing off with video games and MySpace, not that they lack the time to go outside for a game of tag.

What is it about gym class that turns kids off to physical activity? Too much emphasis on sports where the talented kids get rewarded and everyone else gets humiliated?

What could we do to simulate or stimulate the old-school running around outside just for fun?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Employers should do X in my opinion" is nanny state crap.
Sorry for the imprecision in my language. Of course an employer isn't a state. But in fairness to me, the implication of saying we need "mandatory" exercise at employment is that the state would have to become involved. Employers aren't going to do it on their own en masse.

Moreover, the idea behind it, that your government, your employer, or anyone in a position of authority over you, should have the power to force personal decisions on you "for your own good" is very much a nanny state concept. I don't want to live in a world where my employer gets to tell me what I can eat and what I can do on my free time, as a condition of employment.

And I echo my original point, which is that this all ignores the fundamental cause of the problem, which is the gargantuan portions Americans eat. I know Daruma is going to get up on his soapbox about processed food and that nonsense, but really, it comes down to calories. Even compared to Canadians, you guys just eat wayyyy too much. It's really a cultural thing. Change the culture and the problem will go away. No need for mandatory boot camp during your lunch hour.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
I'm convinced. We need mandatory daily exercise periods in every grade for every kid, no namby-pamby exclusions for anyone who can stand and walk, and we need it like 10 years ago. We also need employers to start getting everybody lined up for mandatory exercise periods.
No. Screw the nanny state crap. There are plenty of developed western nations around the world that don't have forced fitness programs that are relatively thin and healthy. It's simply a fact that people can regulate their own weight without some massive regulation or forced program. Find another way.
Got one (another way) in mind? Some populations aren't as obese as ours, but we're not going to wake up one day Swedish. What's gonna get people exercising? Getting too fat and getting sick because of it doesn't seem to be the right motivator.

Some companies are refusing to hire smokers. I think that might soon extend to obese people (I can see the column OSC will write now). Will obesity become a protected class?

I'm getting pretty pudgy myself and I don't exercise like I should, so I admit that my rant is partly motivated by a desire to have someone solve my laziness problem for me.

Yet I think it might be a good idea to turn the misguided social obsession with unrealistic (and therefore unmotivating) ideals of thinness and beauty into some social impetus toward physical activity.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Got one (another way) in mind? Some populations aren't as obese as ours, but we're not going to wake up one day Swedish. What's gonna get people exercising? Getting too fat and getting sick because of it doesn't seem to be the right motivator.

Some companies are refusing to hire smokers. I think that might soon extend to obese people (I can see the column OSC will write now). Will obesity become a protected class?

I'm getting pretty pudgy myself and I don't exercise like I should, so I admit that my rant is partly motivated by a desire to have someone solve my laziness problem for me.

Yet I think it might be a good idea to turn the misguided social obsession with unrealistic (and therefore unmotivating) ideals of thinness and beauty into some social impetus toward physical activity.

It's hard. I don't deny it. I am not fat, but according to my doctor, I am either on the high end of average, or on the low end of overweight. No question I could lose 10 lbs. and be better for it. And I work out constantly to maintain the weight I'm at. And all that does is break even. If I ever stop working out, the meltdown is gonna happen pretty quick, let me tell you.

But the problem requires a personal solution. I don't presume to make other people take responsibility for my issues, and I would resent other people making me take responsibility for theirs.

Group health insurance, I fear, is little more than an excuse for busy-bodies to do what they love, which is meddle. These are people who want to control other peoples' lives, and now are using healthcare costs as an excuse to do just that.

I find it contemptible.

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Funean
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Scifibum, part of it is indeed that parents are scared to turn their kids loose with a "be home for supper" these days, and not completely without reason, certainly. But it is up to parents to unplug the Xbox and the TV, not schools or anyone else. It's not as easy to provide opportunities for safe play as it once was, and there are sedentary pursuits competing for kids' time, but it certainly can and should be done. Given the opportunity, kids will just *play*, just like given a choice between "outside" and "inside" kids will usually pick "outside." We just have to make it a priority, because it isn't the default it once was. Maybe if they know we're going to load them up with chores if they aren't actively playing. I know that "I'm bored" was the death phrase in my mother's house. [Smile]

Anyway, PE manifestly isn't an effective solution. Rather than providing children with the chance at healthy physical activity, what it generally does is a) provide athletes with a chance to shine some more, b) give poor students something they can be good at, or at least a break from their suffering in the classroom, and c) create a semi-daily nightmare for kids with no physical prowess or grace, or who just can't "get" team sports. Since kids generally like physical activity unless they're given a reason not to, it's my belief that the net effect of PE is to create a class of children who believe they loathe physical activity, when in reality all they loathe is PE.

And this is all aside from my belief that sports don't belong in school at all. Not PE and not sports teams (which basically use the school setting to promote "us" and "them" modes of thinking--not that I think that's the intent, but it is the outcome.) I think instructional time needs to be spent on instruction. I also much prefer town leagues, where kids from different schools can all play with each other and get to know one another, regardless of whether they're public, parochial, private or homeschooled.

I do agree with you that it would be nice if all the energy put into being thin were put into being fit, but sadly one is used as a euphemism for the other and so people who are not rail thin (and muscleless and ill) are seen as lazy and indolent, even if they're strong as oxen, just not lean in appearance.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
No. Screw the nanny state crap. There are plenty of developed western nations around the world that don't have forced fitness programs that are relatively thin and healthy. It's simply a fact that people can regulate their own weight without some massive regulation or forced program. Find another way.

There are? I was under the impression that being too fat is an epidemic that's sweeping the entire western world.
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Jesse
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quote:
It's not as easy to provide opportunities for safe play as it once was
I think the definition of "safe" has just changed, Fun. It certainly wasn't safer to let your eight year old ride their bike around the neighborhood all day before helmets and cars with anti-lock brakes.

Jason

Plenty of Japanese companies still have morning calesthenics. You're on the clock, you're on the clock. You don't like it, find another job.

My old Boss used to tell us to get off our butts and walk around the building when we were sitting around waiting for our trucks to get loaded. "You sit all day! Go for a walk! It's nice out! You can't drink coffee and walk?".

He signed the checks, we walked.

Still, first things first, like getting the Pizza Hut carts off of campuses and ditching the soda machines. There's no reason our schools should be actively pushing poison.

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OceanRunner
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I really don't care if my future kids' future schools have PE - but I do care if they have plenty of recess time. Kids will naturally burn plenty of calories being kids if left to their own devices enough (outside); it's just that the combination of free time and "get out of the house" is too uncommon these days.

and adults - I think the primary issue is one of work-life balance and corporate culture. I see a huge diffeent between one Army unit out here and another just due to the emphasis placed on physical fitness -- one has a significant percentage of overweight officers and soldiers, the other has very minimal weight problems. I think a lot of people in America, between work/commute/family, don't have much time left (and don't make time) to take the nightly family walks or play sports, and they also don't have the type of neighborhood setup to be walking instead of driving. translating a small percentage of sedentary time to active time makes a huge difference.

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KnightEnder
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P.E. was fun when I was a kid. And I never had it after sixth grade cause I was always on a team. But my boys both took it and though they spend a lot of time in front of the computer they are both trim and fit. Well, John works out obsesively but Jake doesn't and he's in good shape, too.

KE

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G2
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We could promote fitness with a fat tax. we know the recommended height/weight rations for a healthy person. For every pound over your healthy weight, you pay a $10 fine per month (e.g. a person 10 lbs overweight would pay $100 every month until their weight dropped). The money collected from these fines could be used to offset the cost of weight related medical issues.

This leaves people to their own devices to decide what fitness and diet regimen works for them without any nanny state telling them what to do.

The fat tax could also be levied on unhealthy foods. A few percentage points on chips or ice cream to discourage people from purchasing them would go a long ways to helping people make healthier choices.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
For every pound over your healthy weight, you pay a $10 fine per month (e.g. a person 10 lbs overweight would pay $100 every month until their weight dropped.)
You realize most people in this country are overweight by at least 30 pounds, right?
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G2
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So? What's your point?
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TomDavidson
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So you're okay with suddenly taxing the average American from $200 - $400 a month? And okay with taxing a typical obese person -- a group that tends to be poorer than the mean -- something like $1000 per month?
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Anyway, PE manifestly isn't an effective solution. Rather than providing children with the chance at healthy physical activity, what it generally does is a) provide athletes with a chance to shine some more, b) give poor students something they can be good at, or at least a break from their suffering in the classroom, and c) create a semi-daily nightmare for kids with no physical prowess or grace, or who just can't "get" team sports. Since kids generally like physical activity unless they're given a reason not to, it's my belief that the net effect of PE is to create a class of children who believe they loathe physical activity, when in reality all they loathe is PE.
Are you sure you aren't generalizing a negative and out-dated concept of PE? The PE teacher in my elementary school is one of the best I've ever encountered. He NEVER does traditional team sports, even when he teaches those things. For example, he might do a football unit, but it never results in a traditional football contest. Instead, everything he does is games based, meaning short, cooperative games that involve a variety of physical and movement challenges. But most of his time is spent on truly original games and activities, which almost always employ universal participation, a broad enough spectrum of skills (so that it doesn't excessively favor those in traditional sports programs) and a healthy view of competition (this could be a values difference between you and I; I agree that "us vs. them" mentality can quickly become toxic, but competition is an inescapable fact of life, and sportsmanship and ethics are impossible to teach if we never allow kids to compete).

His class is without question the most popular in the school. Kids LOVE it. They love playing weird games like quiddich or lightning, where they can have fun while being active. I see them on the playground all the time.

While it is true that athletic kids will have an advantage in lots of the activities in PE, thats not really any different than any other class. I think a good PE class (and there ARE plenty of bad ones) should provide something positive for all kids, regardless of ability. But, by what you seem to be saying, we shouldn't teach anything, because it will turn off the kids who aren't good at it. If its true for PE, why isn't it true for reading (for example)?

Adam

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
So you're okay with suddenly taxing the average American from $200 - $400 a month? And okay with taxing a typical obese person -- a group that tends to be poorer than the mean -- something like $1000 per month?

What do you think would be a more appropriate amount?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
While it is true that athletic kids will have an advantage in lots of the activities in PE, thats not really any different than any other class. I think a good PE class (and there ARE plenty of bad ones) should provide something positive for all kids, regardless of ability. But, by what you seem to be saying, we shouldn't teach anything, because it will turn off the kids who aren't good at it. If its true for PE, why isn't it true for reading (for example)?
This is actually a pretty good point. I guess though the counter-argument would be that phys ed is supposed to be about promoting active and healthy living, and giving the kids some exercise. Unlike English or math, your level of achievement in terms of actual prowess isn't supposed to matter.

My problem with team sports like basketball and football is that the learning curve is just too steep, and the athletic kids dominate too easily. I mean basketball is a classic example. If you don't play basketball regularly, you're just going to suck. You're going to be useless on the court. You're going to be running around the court aimlessly watching the kids on the basketball team pretty much dominate. I know that's what I did, and ironically I was probably near being the tallest in the grade.

One game that gets a bad rap in TV and movies, but to me was one of the funnest games, was dogeball. Talk about an egalitarian game. Very easy learning curve. You throw, you dodge. Sure some kids were better than others, but unlike basketball, it's not a game where anybody can really dominate completely. The athletes can't be everywhere to pick up every ball that comes at them. Everyone can participate, and everyone must participate, because even if you don't throw the ball at them, they're gonna throw it at you!

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DonaldD
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G2, I didn't realize you were such a socialist - actually, a redistributive anti-Robin Hood since weight in western society negatively correlates to wealth. But regardless, a redistributer. Your latest call to arms - "Let's spread the wealth! We'll take from the fat and give to the lean!" [Smile]

It's also funny that you decry the 'nanny state' but think the government should keep tabs on people's medical records - no nanny state there...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
What do you think would be a more appropriate amount?
I oppose "sin taxes" in general, and a sin tax on the equivalent of sin wealth as opposed to sin income is something particularly repugnant to me.
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scifibum
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I'm not convinced it was a serious suggestion on G2's part. Yet.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
One game that gets a bad rap in TV and movies, but to me was one of the funnest games, was dogeball. Talk about an egalitarian game. Very easy learning curve. You throw, you dodge. Sure some kids were better than others, but unlike basketball, it's not a game where anybody can really dominate completely. The athletes can't be everywhere to pick up every ball that comes at them. Everyone can participate, and everyone must participate, because even if you don't throw the ball at them, they're gonna throw it at you!
I totally agree. The way we play it at my school, there are two bowling pins set up near the back of one's court. You can win be either eliminating the other team, or, by knocking down both pins. A lot of the "non-athletic" kids love to guard the pins: its safer because its far from the line, it gives them a productive role and lets them make a real contribution to the team effort, and even if they get "out", its in a positive context (they "took one for the team", instead of just being one more victim of the other side). Of all the games I observe, I find it one of the most positive for ALL of the kids involved. Of course, our gym teacher uses soft balls that don't hurt, which I think is necessary to prevent the game from being an exercise in picking on weaker kids.

Adam

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scifibum
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quote:
Of course, our gym teacher uses soft balls that don't hurt, which I think is necessary to prevent the game from being an exercise in picking on weaker kids.
I think the good old four-square balls that can leave a mark and knock you over are more fun, but I was one of the better players and didn't mind a little stinging from a good shot. Though I guess the girls and smaller kids would probably have had more fun in dodgeball if it didn't hurt as much.

I'm not sure I can imagine a ball soft enough not to hurt but still suitable for throwing and catching, though.

We used the balls that hurt a little but most of the kids would take it easy when targeting the ones who weren't as good/big. It earned scorn if you made someone cry, for instance. It was just more fun to save the kill shots for the big shots, if you know what I mean. [Smile]

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I'm not convinced it was a serious suggestion on G2's part. Yet.

I sometime wonder who's paying attention around here. So far, you seem to be the only one ... [Cool]

Of course I'm not seriously suggesting a "fat tax". But I'd say there's no difference between a fat tax and cigarette taxes or any of the myriad other taxes we levy to drive behavior. What's one more?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I think the good old four-square balls that can leave a mark and knock you over are more fun, but I was one of the better players and didn't mind a little stinging from a good shot. Though I guess the girls and smaller kids would probably have had more fun in dodgeball if it didn't hurt as much.

I'm not sure I can imagine a ball soft enough not to hurt but still suitable for throwing and catching, though.

We used the balls that hurt a little but most of the kids would take it easy when targeting the ones who weren't as good/big. It earned scorn if you made someone cry, for instance. It was just more fun to save the kill shots for the big shots, if you know what I mean.

We used those red rubber balls. They had enough heft that you could throw them very hard (unlike a nerf ball, which would be very hard to throw effectively). They could sting if you got hit at point blank range by one of the bigger guys, but they couldn't do any real damage.

I'm curious though, from descriptions I heard about dodgeball in the old days (before my time) you'd think it was a really brutal sport and kids were getting black and blue as a result. Any old timers want to fill us in? What were you guys using back then, bricks? [Smile]

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revtpups
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How old do you have to be to be considered an "old timer"?

I'm 48, and it was the red rubber balls when I was in school. I don't remember any injuries from the equipment we used. The parking lot we played on, though, tore me up. Scabs on my knees and elbows forever. And whippings when I got home for bleeding on my good school clothes.

And yes, JasonR, when they were available (and no grownups were around), a brick would work. Or a rock. Or a dirtclod.

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DonaldD
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What rules did you guys play by? Was it in a circle (as was traditional for some boy scout troops) or in competing courts?

Was the game strictly evasive, or was catching allowed?

In my town, we played in small b-ball-like courts (with no basket supports, natch) one team in each half, with (to begin) one person behind each base line.

One or multiple balls could be used (the red rubber inflatable kind). The object was to hit the opposing players with the ball, who would then be relegated to the base line. It looked sort of like two overlapping games of monkey in the middle, with a vengeance.

It was not 'pure' dodge ball since those in the middle could catch the ball and thereby avoid being put 'out'.

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Gaoics79
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Donald, there were two versions of the game that were more or less universal in camp and school. Version one was team dodgeball. Two teams, one on each side of a dividing line in an auditorium. Multiple balls in play. The object is to eliminate the other team.

Any hit to any part of the body (including hands) results in the hit player being "out", unless that player catches the ball, in which case the player who through the ball is "out". In some versions, every time a ball is caught, the team that caught it is allowed to bring back to life one of its "out" players, who would be sitting on the side in purgatory.

This team version of the game is as close to an official sanctioned version that I am aware of. When I played the game in a social league a couple years ago, this was essentially the version the league used.

The second version is what I call the free-for-all version. In this version, it's every man for himself and there are no dividing lines. You hit someone with the ball and they are out, unless they catch it, in which case you are out. Head shots are usually illegal.

In this version, there were two ways to deal with "out" players. Either you'd sit down on the field where you were hit and wait for the ball to roll by. If you could pick up the ball and without moving from your spot, knock someone out, you would be back in.

In the second version, "out" players would be permitted to roam the boundaries of the gym, on the periphery of the playzone. If a ball fell into that zone, they could try to knock out live players, and this would bring them back to life.

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Funean
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Adam, my son hasn't been at his new school long enough for me to form an impression of their PE program, but you might be right and I'll get back to you.

On "us and them"--I don't refer to competition, which I agree is not only hardwired but beneficial unless distorted, but the kind of thing where the kids who go to that other school across town are bad guys.

fixed spelling, jeez

[ October 31, 2008, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: Funean ]

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by revtpups:
How old do you have to be to be considered an "old timer"?

You start being considered an old timer when you start asking if you're old enough to be considered one. [LOL]

[ October 31, 2008, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: G2 ]

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Viking_Longship
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I think the self-propelledexcercise program the PE teacher put togethr in Supersize Me would be great. If we are teaching PE as a life skill most of us have to excercise on our own.

Unfortunately most of our PE classes are taught by sport coaches as their day job while they wait to coach whatever team they are actually valued for after school. I don't anticipate that changing.

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philnotfil
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mmm, dodgeball. When I was in middle school we had a courtyard about 30-40 feet across with blank brick walls on each end. We would play with two inch super bouncy balls. The ultimate shot was to hit someone in the back of the head off of one of the end walls.
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scifibum
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In elementary school we played a variation on dodgeball called "butt ball." I can't remember all the rules, but the name of the game came from the game's penalty rule: if you messed up, you had to stand with your hands against the wall and let the other players chuck the ball at your butt. Sometimes we played with the red four square ball, and that wasn't too bad. When we played with racquetball balls it was pretty painful at times.
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