‘Elf and safety brigade slaps ban on footballs in the PLAYGROUND… because they’re too dangerous’ Screams the Daily Mail as it heard about one primary school’s decision to stop kids using leather footballs in a cramped playground and use sponge balls instead. The reasoning behind the decision is sound:
Malvern Primary School yesterday insisted the football crackdown was not new, saying the reminder had been issued after a parent complained that a child was nearly hurt.
It pointed out that its cramped playground was shared by pupils of all ages but stressed it was supportive of sport and backed the importance of physical exercise.
In a statement it added: ‘Malvern Primary School treats the health and safety of its pupils as a top priority and has for a long time had a policy of protecting children by recommending sponge balls in the playground before school starts and during breaks, especially as the playground accommodates children from the age of four to 11.’
As someone who always played football during school breaks I can well understand the risks – I lost count of how many windows we broke over the years, but luckily we had big outdoor spaces so we could always be avoided by other kids. If Malvern Primary School has cramped playgrounds shared by pupils of 4-11 then it seems perfectly sensible to make that space as safe as possible. Put it another way, if a group of boys started booting a football around in a busy shopping centre the Mail would be screaming for ASBOs before a sweet old pensioner even took a 20-yard screamer directly in the face. What is the difference? These are both shared public spaces, they should both be used responsibly, the sponge ball is a sociable compromise, not an example of ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ gone mad.
As pointed out in the comments (and currently well in the red):
DM having a go at health and safety again how predictable. Anyone who thinks this policy is wrong should try the following experiment. Find a four year old relative, preferably one you love. Have an eleven year old blast a leather football into them. On the way back from the children’s hospital try to think about what you have caused and how it might have been prevented.
As for the Mail trying to bring obesity into the article as if replacing the material that a football is made of is part of the cause, it really is pretty pathetic stuff. The rent-a-quote wheeled out by the Mail doesn’t even make any sense:
But Tam Fry, chairman of obesity prevention charity the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘Children must be exposed to risk, otherwise how can they be expected to learn?
‘It may think it is protecting the children, but they could just as easily fall over playing with a sponge ball.
‘Policies like this mean our children are in danger of becoming cocooned cotton buds.’
Point one: what does a child learn from being hit in the face with a football?
Point two: the decision is not being made to protect those playing football (who understand and accept the risks of getting a ball smashed into their groin), it is to protect the other young kids who are using the space. It is easy to avoid being hit by a ball if you are involved in the game, less easy when you’re chatting to friends and get smashed on the back of the head.
Point three: how does making a space more sociable possibly equate with children ‘becoming cocooned cotton buds’ (which doesn’t even make any sense)?
It’s hard to believe that this is what modern journalism has become in the Daily Mail – or that it is now by far and away the busiest newspaper site in the UK with over 56m unique users each month*.
*which is about 56m more each month than this blog.