Tag Banned as Schools Fear Lunchtime Accidents

ByABC News
October 25, 2006, 6:31 PM

Oct. 25, 2006 — -- The familiar scream "You're it!" is slowly disappearing from schoolyards as administrators enact rules banning the classic game from recess.

Last week, Willett Elementary School in Attleboro, Mass., became one of four schools nationwide to enforce a tag ban. Principal Gaylene Heppe said the school made the decision because recess is "a time when accidents can happen."

The ban touched off a stream of local criticism and national ridicule with newspapers calling it "ridiculous" and "overzealous."

Is tag the scourge of recess? Does it belong, as one expert has placed it, in the "physical education hall of shame"?

We did an unscientific poll with a prepubescent focus group and found a resounding "no."

One child said the choice to get rid of this game is "horrible."

As some schools move to ban this classic schoolyard chase, in which kids run around and try to avoid getting tapped and named "it," some believe the game is just bad for the losers' pysches.

That's what led to the banning of dodge ball in some schools. But one critic still questions this choice.

"Generations of Americans have survived tag. I wonder why now? What's so terrible about being 'it' a few extra times?" asked USA Today columnist Christine Brennan.

At a time when there's an epidemic of childhood obesity, it seems unwise to limit kids' activities. But this particular game may not be the best way to get kids running and burning calories, according to Eastern Connecticut State University physical education professor Neil Williams, who put tag in his "hall of shame."

Williams said the kids who most need the exercise are usually tagged out earliest and shut out of the game.

"They wind up sitting on the sidelines. They get no benefit except to watch the stronger kids, the better kids excel at the game," he said.

Debating aside, two of the young "experts" who spoke with ABC News remain solid in their support of the game.

"You'll have nothing to do if they ban tag, because it's just not fun without tag," one said.