And We Wonder Why We Have A Childhood Obesity Problem?

In case you wondered, paternalism and fears of liability for potential injury will trump generalized health concerns about obesity and lack of exercise every time.

Want proof?  Consider Weber Middle School in Port Washington, New York.  School officials are concerned that kids are getting injured during recess.  So, they’ve taken a proportionate response — they’ve banned footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, and any other object that might conceivably hurt someone.  Oh, and tag also is banned, as are cartwheels.  Presumably, even more violent games, like “red rover” and “smear the queer,” were banned long ago.

How ridiculous we’ve become!  Generations of kids somehow managed to survive throwing a football or playing catch during recess.  It was a good way to get some fresh air, blow off steam, and have some fun with your school buddies.  Kids got some exercise in the process and came back into their classrooms with a little less energy and a little more ability to focus on algebra and chemistry and civics.

The school says it just wants its students to be “protected” in the wake of a rash of injuries.  I’m sure that’s it — and there’s probably a desire to avoid potential lawsuits brought by angry parents, too.  When I was a kid, no parent would even dream of suing their public school district, and no lawyers would consider taking such cases, either.  Falls from the jungle gym and the occasional broken collar bone were just accepted parts of growing up.  No longer!

We wonder why we have obese kids?  We are so protective of youngsters that we take all of the fun out of play — and in the process make kids less and less likely to get any meaningful exercise.  If you can’t play physical games, why not just retreat into your video game world where your digital counterpart can at least have some fun?  Our paternalistic society is doing a tremendous disservice to our kids.

Back, Safe And Sound

Yesterday we drove from Columbia, Missouri to Columbus, Ohio.  It’s a straight shot on I-70, and it was one of those journeys that offer the best and worst that the American interstate highway system has to offer.

At first we rolled through the Missouri and Illinois countryside on a sunny Sunday morning.  We racked up the miles and made good time on good roads, listening to the radio and marveling at the freedom of a fun weekend road trip.

DSC04124Then, as traffic picked up, we encountered the road rage crew — hyper-aggressive drivers who can’t stand to wait in the passing lane with everyone else.  If you drive, you know the type.  You first notice them in the rear-view mirror, darting back and forth through the traffic as they come barreling up.  Then they are upon you, passing cars on the right, stupidly flirting with a semi or two, squeezing into a too-small space in the passing lane left by a driver who still adheres to the quaint notion of maintaining an assured clear distance, and leaving the brake lights of law-abiding motorists flashing in their wake.  If they have to wait to pass, they show their impatience by swinging out to the left of the passing lane to see what is keeping them from driving 90.  I always feel safer when the ragers pass by without incident.

At the Indiana-Ohio border we caught up with the western edge of a slow-moving storm.  On a desolate stretch of road, traffic just stopped for no apparent reason.  We were out in the middle of nowhere in the blackness, the rain pelting down and the traffic inching forward, not knowing whether we were dealing with an accident or a road closure.  It was raining so hard that even putting the windshield wipers on rapid speed provided little visibility relief.  There was nothing to do but grit your teeth, stay alert to the traffic flow, and plow through the storm.  After traffic finally picked up again about 20 miles and an hour or so later, we had to deal with interstate truckers driving faster than conditions warranted to make up for lost time and coating our car with road water in the process.

The day ended with a drive down an unlighted country road in the downpour on our way to pick up Penny and Kasey from the kennel.  When we finally pulled into our garage, our dry and snug little house never looked so good.