Canadian researchers: Dodgeball is a tool of ‘oppression’

by WorldTribune Staff, June 4, 2019

Remember, 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 gang up on the weaker ones. — Patches O’Houlihan in “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”.

According to a team of Canadian researchers, Patches O’Houlihan was right — but that’s not a good thing.

Dodgeball teaches kids to single out and violently dominate the weak and is a tool of “oppression” and “miseducative,” the researchers say in the abstract of a paper cited by the National Post, which they will present this month in Vancouver at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The sport is detrimental to the development of kind and gentle children who will become decent citizens of a liberal democracy and is actively harmful to this process, the researchers say.

“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 is antithetical to this project, even when it reflects the choices of the strongest and most agile students,” the researchers say.

The research team was led by Joy Butler, professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia.

In the movie Dodgeball, O’Houlihan stresses the “five D’s of dodgeball — dodge, duck, dip, dive and … dodge.”

The researchers stress that dodgeball “reinforces the five faces of oppression” as defined by the late University of Chicago theorist Iris Marion Young. Those are marginalization, powerlessness, helplessness of those perceived as weaker, exploitation and cultural domination.

“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 researchers write. “We suggest that this tension becomes sharply visible in the common practice of allowing students to play dodgeball.”

An informal reader poll by the Vancouver Sun suggests Canadians are not so keen on ridding schools of the sport. More than 86 percent of respondents to the online poll said schools should not outlaw dodgeball.

The sport has been targeted by progressive activists in the United States as well. A group of teachers and education experts attempted to ban dodgeball in Louisiana in 2017, but failed to get the initiative past the state school board.

“Dodgeball is an activity that we know many of our students enjoy,” the board’s vice president told a Baton Rouge newspaper. “We want to be careful that we don’t create regulations that would stand in the way of students getting fit and enjoying P.E.”

As Patches O’Houlihan says: “Take care of your balls, and they’ll take care of you.”


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