Games where kids chase each other – tag or even cops and robbers – are generally banned in Natomas Unified’s elementary schools. No grabbing or pushing is allowed.
At Natomas Park, students can only toss and catch a football – tackling or blocking isn’t permitted. But the no-contact rule applies beyond the grade-school gridiron.
During lunch recess one recent afternoon, yard supervisor Janice Hudson spotted a first-grader pushing a girl on the swing.
“Do not push,” Hudson told the student. “Let her push herself, please.” —Sandy Louey
I wasn’t exactly the kid who was picked first for sports teams, but my height gave me an advangate in basketball and volleyball. And due to a bizarre chain of circumstances I placed second in an seventh-grade wrestling tournament. Nothing formal — the gym teacher just paired us up over a period of several gym classes. I beat a kid who was a friend of mine, who was just having fun and didn’t try very hard. Then I got creamed by a jock, and thought my wrestling days were over, but I had to keep wrestling in the tournament of losers. I accidentally hit a mid-tier jock in the nose with the back of my hand, and he forfeited the match to go to the clinic. The next jock I was supposed to wrestle was goofing off and wasn’t around when it was his turn, and he forfeited that match, too. Suddenly, I realized I had won the tournament of losers, and found myself facing the alpha jock.
I immediately flopped on my back and pounded the mat three times, surrendering. That was somewhat less humiliating and a lot less bloody than being beat fair and square. It also robbed the alpha jock of the adrenaline fix he’d been hoping for.
Still, a ban on first-graders pushing each other on swings? That seems excessive.