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Letter: A sobering memory

When the headline “School district drops dodgeball; Officials: Games promote violence” appeared in the March 28 Monitor, I’m sure some readers thought, “Oh, great. More nanny state.” I, on the other hand, thought of those days in elementary school when rain would drive me and my classmates into the gym for recess.

The 26 boys would split into our respective teams, the Hoppers and the Crickets, and a spirited – or should I say “meanspirited”? – game of dodgeball would begin. In the absence of any real strategy, a pattern would quickly emerge: Kids low in the pecking order would become the targets of assault. They would quickly be bounced out of the game, often with balls thrown much harder that necessary.

One kid in particular was often targeted: Tony. He was the butt of scorn and ridicule in other settings as well. This ended abruptly in sixth grade when the headmaster of the school came to our classroom to tell us the sad news that Tony had shot himself. While it was never called a suicide, I have come to see it in that way.

So for a school to back away from such games seems to me to be a wise decision. Yes, “boys will be boys,” but we must help them to be better.



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