Archive for December, 2009


“Physical Education Malpractice” (A ball named Sue)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

A few weeks ago I read about a physical education (PE) teacher in the Bronx who is being sued for creating an environment that led to a serious injury by a student.  The game being played in PE class that day was Dodgeball, and a male student (obviously on the receiving end of a throw to the face) lost some of his permanent teeth.  His dental bill is approximately 20k, and his parents are suing for damages.

Allegedly, this is the story.  We all know not to believe everything we read in the papers and on the internet, so while I maintain a healthy degree of skepticism, it appears that this is pretty much the way it happened.  Therefore, in my opinion — this is malpractice and I’m 100% in support of the parents who are taking legal action.

We all know that dodgeball (or it’s conceptual variations – warball, bombardment, etc.) has no place – NO PLACE – in an educational environment.  If the standard or learning objective of that day’s physical education class is throwing accuracy, there are plenty of ways children can practice it without using each other as targets.  Besides the physical danger, the emotional safety of kids is compromised significantly.  Those students with the strongest arms are throwing at others who cannot dodge the bullet.  It’s a classic example of PE Darwinism – seeking the slower, less agile ones for elimination first.  And, no one should ever be forced or peer pressured to play this game.  Finally, just to add insult to injury, (allegedly) a hard ball was used – arrrggh!!

This is a great one for one of my favorite Saturday Night Live segments – “Really with Seth and Amy.”

“Really, so you decided to play a game that has been on every PE hall of shame list with your students – really?  Even though you know that the game itself has led to a bad reputation shared by PE teachers all over the country, really?  And you thought you’d play Dodgeball with a hard ball that could really do some damage to a kid’s grill – really.  And really, you just assumed that the child’s parents and your Principal would be OK with this and not sue your ______ for damages – really!”

Now we all know Dodgeball is not the only embarrassment to our physical education teacher reputations we’re still trying to live down.  What about elimination games?  What about teachers taking way too much time instructing while students are sitting on their rears and waiting for the cue to move?  Don’t think they happen much anymore?

Last week I witnessed examples of both of these – each taught by a former or current, National Teacher of the Year!

People, it’s not OK.  Don’t model these Hall of Shame activities anymore.  Let’s only show people how fantastic a quality physical education experience can be, not go back to old, outdated practice that only aligns us with the problem, and not with the solution.

I hope everyone will join me in making a pact to never, ever, do any of the following in a school-based physical education class:

Join SPARK in our effort to ELIMINATE THESE EIGHT!

1. Standing in long lines (inactive and not recovering from high exertion) waiting for a turn with the equipment.  Think relays too.

2. Using other students for target practice.

3. Sitting on roll call numbers.

4. Elimination games.

5. Picking teams.

6. Using fitness as punishment.

7. Grouping and playing games by gender.

8. Focusing on star athletes

Help Your Kids Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

This week we’re excited to bring you a post by our guest-author, Andrea Hart, RD, CDN.


The holiday season is here and for most of us that means Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, New Year’s celebrations…which means food, food, and more food! Not to mention that with more to pack into our already busy schedules, who has time for exercise?

Keeping up with healthy habits has benefits for your whole body – like helping to avoid holiday weight gain, helping to fend off holiday stress and fatigue, and helping to keep your immune system strong. Many people give up on healthy habits during the holidays but with these tips you can teach your children how to stay healthy during this busy time of year.

Tips for healthy holiday eating:

  • Feed your children – and yourself – a light meal or snack before going to a holiday party. It’s harder to avoid overeating when you’re overly hungry.
  • Set a good example for children by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with meals or as snacks.
  • Offer to bring a healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties so you’ll know that at least one healthy item will be available.
  • Teach your children to eat smaller portions of food, especially at a buffet, where they may want to try everything. Help them choose the items they want to try the most, and eat a small portion of each.
  • Sodas and other sweet drinks contain a lot of calories and many contain caffeine. For a healthier version of “soda” mix 100% fruit juice with club soda or seltzer.
  • The holiday season can keep you extra busy but try to avoid fast food – it may be handy, but is often high in fat and low in nutrition.

Tips for physical activity:

  • Do fall and winter chores with your kids – raking leaves, shoveling snow
  • Have fun together outside – go for a walk, tumble in the leaves, go sledding, build a snowman
  • Play games outside – soccer, football, Frisbee, catch
  • Go on an active family outing – ice skating, bowling, skiing
  • Limit TV watching – but when you do watch TV, get up and move instead of sitting during commercials
  • Turn on holiday music and dance around the house
  • Give gifts that encourage physical activity, like active games or sporting equipment

-Andrea Hart, RD, CDN