Those games included prison ball, slaughter, bombardment and others. The committee looked at them relative to standards set by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.
“It came back that they were concerned with these human target games,” School Board member Stephanie Wimmer said. “When professionals in our own district are saying we don’t need these games and they should be taken out, I want to respect the contributions of our professionals.”
School Board member Dennis Senibaldi was the sole vote against the ban.
“We have rules that are set in place to deal with bullying,” he said. “We don’t need to ban an entire round of games just to enforce those rules.”
The NASPE said there are any number of reasons to drop dodgeball.
“It’s an elimination game,” said Andrew Mead, program manager at NASPE. “Games like dodgeball and tag don’t keep kids involved and physically active. They objectify slower students who don’t catch as well.”
Senibaldi thinks there’s a simple solution.
“We could just do it on a point system,” he said. “So, no one gets knocked out right away.”
Safety concerns can be addressed, officials in other districts said.
Vicki Parady-Guay, athletic director at Sanborn Regional School District, said extra precautions are taken when students play dodgeball.
“We use foam balls, which don’t even have outside casing on it,” she said. “It turns into more of a fun and spirited activity.”
Foam balls were being used in Windham, too, Senibaldi said.
“It just makes me scratch my head,” he said. “The balls used aren’t really that hard. These aren’t the days of the big red jelly balls anymore.”
Dodgeball is an after-school activity in the Timberlane Regional School District. In Londonderry, it’s played, but not as often.
With dodgeball off the menu in Windham, LaBranche said officials are looking for alternatives.
“The physical and developmental skills are still important,” he said. “We just want to incorporate them into an activity where we don’t use youngsters as targets.”