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Weber Middle School recess ball ban sparks national reaction

Ball ban: Students at a Long Island middle

Ball ban: Students at a Long Island middle school were not allowed to use hard balls or play tag during recess. Port Washington's middle school restricted students to using Nerf balls during a 20-minute recess period because they were playing in limited space while a construction project was underway, the school district said. Credit: Barry Sloan

The ban on playing with hard balls during recess at a Port Washington middle school is prompting big reaction from across the country over whether children today are being overprotected.

National news outlets and local operations as far as Hawaii have picked up the story, and it has caused big social media buzz.

Although the Port Washington School District said in a statement the ban is only temporary to protect students from injury while a construction project takes place, the conversation has focused on whether society is becoming too protective of kids.

Reaction has been mixed.

"Without opportunities to learn how to navigate space with their bodies, and to negotiate rules, risks, and experimentation of cooperative play, how are children going to ever be able to handle themselves in any society as adults?" Alex Martin, an associate director at a Manhattan nursery school, told CNN.

On the other side of the argument, CNN quoted Facebook user Tylorr Parker, who wrote, "Freedom is great until the parents sue the school district.”

Newsday Facebook followers posted more than 100 comments.


In an editorial for CBS Connecticut, former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland called the policy “lawsuit paranoia … I am all for protecting our kids, but let them play let them scrape their knees, maybe even twist an ankle, it’s all part of growing up.”

Among the many comments on Twitter, @judjenot, wrote:


The Port Washington district’s website said the policy was instituted because a construction project has reduced recess space at Weber.

“With children in such close proximity to one another, it is not safe for them to be engaged in unstructured play with hard balls,” the statement said.

While the ban is in place, students are permitted to play with hard balls during gym and intramural athletics. However, they are limited to softer Nerf balls, which the district is supplying, during recess. writer Samantha Grossman pointed out that even Nerf balls can lead to injuries, but suggested: “To be safe, maybe everyone should just stay inside and color.” 

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