Dodgeball May Have a Negative Impact on High School Students

Ken Reed, author of, “How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan” has a pretty firm opinion on the popular gym class activity dodgeball.

After the film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story came out over a decade ago, there was a resurgence of the game in U.S. schools according to Reed. With children in the U.S. experiencing some of the world’s highest rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, now more than ever it is important that our gym classes meet the needs of kids at every level of fitness. For Reed, dodgeball just does not fit the bill.

“I was a multi-sport jock and playing dodgeball in school meant I could use my size and athletic ability to pummel my less physically-gifted classmates before ultimately battling my fellow jocks for dodgeball supremacy,” said Reed recalling his own days as a student in gym.

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However, according to Reed, while the game is fun for athletes, it does not provide an outlet for weaker, slower, and overall less athletic kids to have fun. This is especially so when more athletic kids have such a heavy advantage that less skilled kids will spend the game not playing, but standing still on the sidelines.

A high-level physical education program should be geared to meeting the needs of every student in the hopes of teaching them healthy habits that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. While Reed does not advocate the elimination of dodgeball as a whole, even mentioning the idea of private organizations and clubs, he believes that including the game in a publicly funded program does not meet the needs of students and can be detrimental as well as humiliating.

When designing curriculums for their classes, physical educators might find benefit in examining every class for games and activities that leave students exercising less, and feeling excluded more.