New York schools ban playground balls, tag and cartwheels

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) Worries about injuries at a Long Island school have led to a surprising ban.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.

Tossing a football during recess has long seemed to be a rite of passage for kids in the school community.

“I think we need the soccer balls, the footballs and everything, so we can have some fun,” one student said.

But the students will have no such option anymore. They were just informed that during recess, football is out and Nerf ball is in. Hard soccer balls have been banned, along with baseballs and lacrosse balls, rough games of tag, or cartwheels unless supervised by a coach.

Students were not thrilled about the news.

“Cartwheels and tag — I think it’s ridiculous they are banning that,” one said.

“You go for recess — that’s your free time to go let loose and recharge,” another said.

“That’s all we want to do,” a third student said. “We’re in school all day sitting behind the desk learning.”

But Port Washington schools Supt. Kathleen Maloney said the change in policy is warranted due to a rash of playground injuries.

“Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected,” Maloney said.

Without helmets and pads, children are much more susceptible to getting hurt, experts said.

Long Island Jewish Medical Center emergency room director Dr. Salvatore Pardo said he has been seeing “head injuries, bumps, scrapes; worried about concussions.”

But some parents said it is really about liability and lawsuits.

“Children’s safety is paramount, but at the same time, you have to let them live life,” said Port Washington parent Ellen Cohen.

Several districts from outside Long Island are already contacting Nassau County educators. Soon, additional schools may be jumping on the banning balls bandwagon.

The Port Washington district said the softer foam balls put students in the best situation to cut down the chance of getting injured.


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