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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The name of this game is outrageous


Your voice: Michael K. White

My friends and family know me as someone who tries to be the antithesis of political correctness. Unless you're talking style and fashion with your wife, I feel that the truth is good even if it hurts. I've been known to laugh at off-color jokes and have even told a few in my time. I even like dodge ball!

Yet, it has finally happened. I have joined forces with the PC police. All because of a childhood summer camp game that seems to be a staple of the area's summer camps, according to my children's camp director. It's a game many counselors like to call murderers. Yes, that's right; they teach a game called murderers to young children in camps. There are different versions around, but the common link is that when you are tagged you have to lie down and not move.

Before we go further, I understand that this game is designed to "calm" our exuberant cherubs and give counselors a little quiet time. But really, do we need to plant suggestions in our children's heads about murder and death? We live in a society where scorn is directed at anyone that suggests keeping score in a child's T-ball game.

This game first came to my attention when a neighbor's child was playing in our yard and was teaching our kids this game. My almost apoplectic wife told the children that she didn't think the game was appropriate, and they stopped. When we discussed the game with our neighbors, who were horrified that their daughter would know a game like this, they found out after talking to her that she had been taught this game at her summer camp. After speaking to our own son and daughter about the inappropriateness of this game, or at least the title, imagine our chagrin when they came home the very next day and said that our camp had played it as well. They had sat out the game because of our conversation the night before.

How can a game similar to tag be inappropriate? Well, it is not the game itself but the connotation of the title. Young children cannot comprehend many of the nuances of death as it is; to muddy their minds even more is outrageous.

In this day and age of zero tolerance in school systems, where children are suspended for bringing a plastic knife to school, when dodge ball is no longer allowed because it is too violent, surely camp counselors can see the need to at least change the name of this game to something else.

Just don't call it "freeze tag." My politically correct brethren in Alaska may not like it.

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Michael K. White of West Chester Township is vice president of operations for an area firm.

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