What is the world coming to?  In June of this year, Pat Samarge, the principal of an elementary school in Santa Monica, BANNED THE CHILDREN’S GAME OF TAG at her school.  Why would someone ban tag, you might ask?   Ms. Samarge noted a number of reasons, including self-esteem. 

This decision actually came on May 27th when Ms. Samarge informed school parents that the game of tag would no longer be permitted at her school. 

She cited tag and other games as having yielded a couple of concussions, broken bones, bumps, bruises, and scrapes. 

As an elementary school student, due to my slowness of foot, I was usually “It.”  I can safely say it’s not a great deal of fun being “It” when you don’t have the speed to catch too many other people to tag them and make them “It.”  This is, or at least was until Ms. Samarge got ahold of it, just one of those things some of us have to deal with in life.  I am certainly not in favor of kids picking on other kids or kids being cruel to other children; however, this is not something that should be legislated. 

Several months ago, I read about a school which put the kibosh on dodge ball.  For those of you who remember, dodge ball entails one team on one side and another team on another side of a line.  The kids on one side of the line throw the ball at the kids on the other side of the line.  If you hit a kid with the ball, he is out of the game; however, if he catches the ball you throw, you are out of the game.  I could catch pretty well, so I did better at dodge ball than at tag, but every once in a while, I took a fastball on any of a number of parts of my body.  Yes, it hurt, and it didn’t feel good. 

That being said, let the kids play.  It is worth an occasional bump or bruise in order to let kids be kids.  There is a tendency in this society for people to try to legislate against everything they don’t like.  Unfortunately, I think this shows bad judgement, and getting carried away with one’s power. 

I further believe that by legislating trivial matters, it takes away the import, the selectiveness of legislating more important matters.  Kids will see everything being equal if there is legislation for all types of behavior, and what kind of message does this send?  Let’s allow dodge ball and tag to survive and save our rules, edicts, pronouncements, and laws for topics that deserve them.



Charlie Unger is a criminal defense attorney in the Glendale law firm of Flanagan, Unger, Danis & Grover, and a psychotherapist at the Foothill Centre for Personal and Family Development.  Mr. Unger writes a bimonthly column on legal and psychological issues.  He can be reached at or at (818) 244-8694