Dodgeball isn't just problematic, it's an unethical tool of 'oppression': researchers

  
Via:  badfish-hd-h-u  •  5 months ago  •  21 comments

Dodgeball isn't just problematic, it's an unethical tool of 'oppression': researchers
The moral problem is that dodgeball encourages students to aggressively single others out for dominance, and to enjoy that dominance as a victory

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Thousands of academics are gathering in Vancouver for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences from June 1-7. They will present papers on everything from child marriage in Canada to why dodgeball is problematic. In its  Oh, The Humanities!  series, the National Post showcases some of the most interesting research.

The games children play in schoolyards are famously horrible, if you stop and think about them.

Tag, for example, singles out one poor participant, often the slowest child, as the dehumanized “It,” who runs vainly in pursuit of the quicker ones. Capture the Flag is nakedly militaristic. British Bulldog has obvious jingoistic colonial themes. Red Ass, known in America as Butts Up, involves deliberate imposition of corporal punishment on losers.

But none rouse the passions of reform-minded educational progressives quite like dodgeball, the team sport in which players throw balls at each other, trying to hit their competitors and banish them to the sidelines of shame.

When the Canadian Society for the Study of Education meets in Vancouver at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, a trio of education theorists will argue that dodgeball is not only problematic, in the modern sense of displaying hierarchies of privilege based on athletic skill, but that it is outright “miseducative.”

dodgeball-3.png?w=640 An athlete on the University of Alberta basketball team is targeted during a game of dodgeball at practice.   David Bloom/Postmedia/File

Dodgeball is not just unhelpful to the development of kind and gentle children who will become decent citizens of a liberal democracy. It is actively harmful to this process, they say.

Dodgeball is a tool of “oppression.”

It is not saved because some kids like it, according to an abstract for the presentation, led by Joy Butler, professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia.

“As we consider the potential of physical education to empower students by engaging them in critical and democratic practices, we conclude that the hidden curriculum offered by dodgeball is antithetical to this project, even when it reflects the choices of the strongest and most agile students,” it reads.

This “hidden curriculum” in dodgeball is far more nefarious than your average gym class runaround. Dodgeball is “miseducative” because it “reinforces the five faces of oppression,” as defined by the late Iris Marion Young, a social and political theorist at the University of Chicago.


Games become more like cruel initiation ceremonies into a brutal world

As Butler’s abstract describes it, those “faces” are “marginalization, powerlessness, and helplessness of those perceived as weaker individuals through the exercise of violence and dominance by those who are considered more powerful.” Young’s list of these fundamental types of oppression also includes exploitation and cultural domination.

The audience for this argument is primarily teachers, including gym teachers, who are identified as part of the problem, for not acting on values they otherwise understand and claim to hold.

“Despite the fact that many physical educators understand their vital role in helping students develop robust, equal, productive relationships and critical awareness, their practices on the ground do not always reflect this agenda,” the presenters write. “We suggest that this tension becomes sharply visible in the common practice of allowing students to play dodgeball.”

It is a familiar criticism, though not one typically phrased in the dry, footnoted academic prose of education theory, let alone with reference to ancient Greek philosophy of ethics.

dodgeball-2.png?w=640 The goal of teaching ethical behaviour through sport is impeded when cruelty, oppression and violence are built into the rules.   Getty Images

For example, when Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan teamed up for the 2004 slapstick comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, they included a scene with Hank Azaria as Patches O’Houlihan, billed as the Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan of dodgeball.

“Remember,” O’Houlihan tells a boy keen to learn the game. “Dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion and degradation. So, when you’re picking players in gym class, remember to pick the bigger, stronger kids for your team. That way, you can all gang up on the weaker ones, like Winston here.”

Winston, a stereotypical nerd, gets a laugh here when he gets hit in the head and his glasses fall off. For many students, this is the miserable experience of schoolyard dodgeball.

For teachers trying to foster the virtues of caring and inclusion, on this view, dodgeball is counterproductive. Sport can teach ethical behaviour and give students the chance to practise it and, in this sense, it is important training for citizens in a democracy.

This goal is impeded when cruelty, oppression and violence are built into the rules. Games become more like cruel initiation ceremonies into a brutal world in which might makes right. As O’Houlihan puts it, before he starts throwing wrenches at his players as a form of training: “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”

The problem with such a sink-or-swim view of physical education is that, at school, games are not just for fun. They are often deliberately chosen as part of a broader education strategy that is meant to align with other aspects of a student’s moral and physical development.

By offering models of good and caring behaviour, confirmation of their value, and practice for incorporating them into one’s own life, games can be training for the virtuous life, said David Burns, professor of educational studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who contributed the parts of the presentation that refer to Aristotle’s philosophy of ethics.

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher whose work reflects a concern with how games, songs, poetry and art say something about who we are and the way we ought to be.

Fun for fun’s sake is good, Burns said, but when a teacher is formally telling students rules for a game, fun can also reinforce behavioural patterns, for good or ill. The moral problem with dodgeball, he said, is that it encourages students to aggressively single others out for dominance, and to enjoy that exclusion and dominance as a victory.

“Within a game,that’s largely harmless, but within an educational experience over time, you might be nurturing the wrong thing,” Burns said.


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†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
1  seeder  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh    5 months ago

Tell us your story, how you were oppressed by dodge-ball and how you overcame the pain and suffering.

original

 
 
 
r.t..b...
1.1  r.t..b...  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    5 months ago
how you were oppressed by dodge-ball and how you overcame the pain and suffering.

Moved around a lot as a family so as the newest, smallest kid, and sporting black horned rimmed glasses to boot, was always the last one picked in that humiliating exercise. Until the next class, when due to a good set of hands and a knack to 'dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge', suddenly became a popular kid. Ridiculous criteria...but nothing separates the haves from the have-nots like that game.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.2  Greg Jones  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    5 months ago

We've got to protect and hide our kids from the sometimes harsh and painful rough and tumble realities of live for as long as possible.

There should be no winners because that would make everyone else a loser

s/

 
 
 
Drakkonis
1.3  Drakkonis  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    5 months ago

I was not a jock in school. Wasn't picked first. In fact, usually picked last. Hurt a little but so what? That's life. I absolutely loved dodge-ball or what we called battle-ball. Not because I was especially good at it but it was so much fun. By far my most favorite thing in P.E. 

 
 
 
Ender
1.3.1  Ender  replied to  Drakkonis @1.3    5 months ago

I don't remember picking teams. I guess I was never first or last.

Those rubber balls could hurt though. They can give a right good smack.

My favorite thing was field day.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
1.4  Thrawn 31  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    5 months ago

Well.... I got hit in the back... I looked at the kid that hit me and thought in a child's mind "I got you mother fucker". Then I drilled him in the side of the head. Love dodge ball.

 
 
 
Ender
1.4.1  Ender  replied to  Thrawn 31 @1.4    5 months ago

I remember zinging a couple of people.

One time I was the last person and someone tried to fake me out. Threw high instead of right at me. I tried, like an idiot, to catch the ball and it hit my hand. I was out and pissed. Think I gave him a welt after that.

 
 
 
Tacos!
2  Tacos!    5 months ago
The moral problem is that dodgeball encourages students to aggressively single others out for dominance, and to enjoy that dominance as a victory

Funny, I always that of that as a feature not a problem. 

At my school, we didn't even call it "dodgeball." We called it "war-ball." We took that shit seriously.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
3  Transyferous Rex    5 months ago

We always played with the softball sized rubber balls. Small enough to really get some whip on them, which for me, typically resulted in some rise. The result? I was notorious for hitting people in the face...then having to sit and watch everyone else enjoy.

I heard this on the radio this morning. Amazing. In my day, even the kids that sucked would choose dodgeball over any other game. Today? Can't play games that uncoordinated kids can't compete in, and can't have classwork that the slow kids struggle with. Just fill'er up halfway buddy. We don't want to get there, we just wanna say we're going.

Picked 1st every time.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3    5 months ago

That's a funny video. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
3.1.1  seeder  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    5 months ago

Maybe we could play dodge ball before we see a cubs game together.

jrSmiley_11_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Greg Jones
3.1.2  Greg Jones  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @3.1.1    5 months ago

Rockies are in town for a series starting tonight.

Hope they can keep the win streak going.

My dad use to take me to Wrigley field to see the Cubs, way back in the day.

Got to ride the South Shore up to Chicago, then take the El and subway out to the field. 

 
 
 
Ronin2
3.2  Ronin2  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3    5 months ago

Dodgeball, I wouldn't want to even play softball against her. Accurate, vicious, with a very strong arm. 

No wonder none of the others wanted to throw balls at her; she might take it personally.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
3.2.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Ronin2 @3.2    5 months ago

Yeah, she's definitely the player the other team should target simultaneously, with at least 4 balls. Get her out of the game fast. Single attacks probably not advised. Could be wrong, but I'd assume she has good hands as well. She welcomes any single throws.

Others you don't want to play against...anyone on the field last night in the WCWS. If OU and UCLA played a game of dodgeball...talk about vicious. 

FYI, for anyone that missed it, and enjoys batted ball sports, last nights final game is worth a watch. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
4  Sparty On    5 months ago

We didn't call it Dodgeball.    It was called War and it was.   It was pretty wicked but i had a good arm and an iron constitution so i survived.   Left many a welt behind though.

Like i always tell everyone

"No one makes me bleed my own blood"

 
 
 
It Is ME
5  It Is ME    5 months ago

I loved dodgeball. The big guy in our class usually got spanked the most.

Good times, Good times !

 
 
 
Jack_TX
6  Jack_TX    5 months ago
It is not saved because some kids like it, according to an abstract for the presentation, led by Joy Butler, professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia.

“As we consider the potential of physical education to empower students by engaging them in critical and democratic practices, we conclude that the hidden curriculum offered by dodgeball is antithetical to this project, even when it reflects the choices of the strongest and most agile students,” it reads.

This “hidden curriculum” in dodgeball is far more nefarious than your average gym class runaround. Dodgeball is “miseducative” because it “reinforces the five faces of oppression,” as defined by the late Iris Marion Young, a social and political theorist at the University of Chicago.

Well....somebody never got over being picked on in school, did she?

 
 
 
charger 383
7  charger 383    5 months ago

Dodgeball was fun and you didn't get out if you got hit, everybody had to stay on the floor

 
 
 
Ender
7.1  Ender  replied to  charger 383 @7    5 months ago

Not when I was a kid. If you got hit you were out. Last man standing kind of deal.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
8  Thrawn 31    5 months ago

Fuck that, play dodge ball and red rover more. In those games you go for the slowest or weakest opponents, really those games should encourage the slowest and weakest to get stronger and faster. 

Getting hit in the face sucks, but you'll get over it. 

 
 
 
Ender
9  Ender    5 months ago

I thought dodgeball was all about having a theme song. For a dramatic introduction.

.

.

Then of course the victory dance.

.

 
 
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