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Tom Shillue

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Mercer Island School District rescinds ‘Tag’ ban after public outcry

Kids on Mercer Island will one day have no idea what is happening in this photo. (AP)
“Tag as we know it … is reinstated.”

Update

After our report on the decision by the Mercer Island School District to ban the game of tag over the physical and emotional safety of students, the district received lots of negative feedback.

Now, the school is backing off.

District officials say the policy was “well intended,” but is being rescinded. Even though they blame, in part, “false reporting” without referencing any report that was false &#8212 and declining to comment on the Jason Rantz Show twice &#8212 they admit that the policy was “clearly not supported by many staff and many parents.” Perhaps that’s the real reason they’re backtracking, not the media’s “false reporting.”

They write on the district’s website:

Tag as we know it and have known it is reinstated. In addition, students may continue to play “flag tag” as they wish. Other respectful games that involve appropriate physical interaction are also encouraged. Our school principals and teachers will work with our students as they imagine and develop new games for play.

This is how it should have been to begin with. It didn’t need to take parental outcry and a radio host to make this change. I’m glad they’re backtracking and I hope they are more thoughtful in their future policies.

Original story

What have our schools become when administrators ban the game of tag over the emotional well-being of kids? Well, a laughing stock.

But that hasn’t stopped the Mercer Island School District from banning the harmless game without even consulting parents.

The school district’s communications director Macy Grade, in an email, told Q13 that the “rationale behind this [ban] is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.”

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Emotional safety? Are kids such wimps that they become traumatized while chased in a game they volunteer to play? Or is that the hyper-sensitive, hyper-protective school district feels the need to protect students from made up dangers to justify their paychecks?

They also address physical safety, wanting kids to “keep their hands to themselves.” After all, a pat on the back in a voluntary game of tag might … make you mildly uncomfortable?

Of course, the ban doesn’t make a lick of sense, particularly in the context of what other activities the school offers.

The school promotes competitive sports like football, which is like tag only instead of gently tagging someone and saying “you’re it,” students will viciously tackle their opponents. Further, the school also provides for wrestling; again, considerably more violent and dangerous than a game of tag.

The only difference I can find behind this kind of hypocrisy is that they charge students $190 per sport in order to participate (this fee was recently raised $15 – perhaps that will go to counseling for the players – they likely will suffer emotional damage from all the rough play, right?). Or perhaps the school can’t charge $190 for tag, so they’ll ban it.

Parents are understandably critical.

“In this day and age of childhood obesity, there’s a need for more activity,” Melissa Neher, a mom of a student in the district, told Q13. “Kids should be free to have spontaneous play on the playground at recess. It’s important for their learning.”

She created a Facebook page so like-minded parents can fumigate with common sense (and hopefully rally for a change).

There’s no legitimate reason for this ban, unless they’re openly trying to be mocked (perhaps, they’re doing their part to take attention off of the recent Bellevue High School football scandal? How benevolent of Mercer Island School District).

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