Britain. Its four corners were built strong by Red Dragons, White Lions, Red Hands, and Blue (jaggy rugged stay-the-heck-away) Thistles. But that was then. Modern Britain is becoming more delicate than an antique vase. Example number 950: the great coming-of-age institution that is ‘tig’ (also called ‘it’ or ‘tag’) is being banned in schools. Whilst tig is not technically a sport, the knock-on effects from such playground bans will inevitably impact on the competitiveness of future British superstars.

Hereford Cathedral School has become the latest to outlaw all games involving “physical contact” labelling them “inappropriate behaviour.” Many more schools are following suit, such as Ascot Prep School as the school’s board plan to ban any game with “human targets.” Personally I’d like all these killjoys to trip out of their tweed loafers and in to the nearest rowing pond.

A human target? What’s a goalkeeper? What’s a snowball fight? What is hide-and-seek? Martin Samuels, a P.E teacher at Norfolk House School said tig must end as it, “endorses the strong to bully the tender” Wait wait wait, you mean to say some people are weaker than others?! There are strong people too?! No s**t Sherlock, and tig is perhaps the earliest chance in life to work out what you are and therefore how you’re going to deal with it.

Playground Tig
Playground Tig

I have a memory. His name was Big John and he was the class bully. In primary 6 he must have weighed in around 14 stone (89 kilos to you metric fans) and if you had something he wanted, he more than often got it. There was also a kid called Gordon, who could have been faxed between classrooms he was so skinny. I’ll never forget the lunch time game of ‘freeze tig’ (a variant of the regular game where if your caught you must stand still until freed’) in which everyone had been caught by Big John. Everyone that is, apart from Gordon. Big John charged at his ‘human target’ like a bull at a stick-thin matador, but instead of the usual outcome that involved him winning, Gordon evaded the stampede at the last moment and Big John careered in to the flower bed, landing on his thickly padded behind. Gordon then darted about freeing everyone else, and became a hero, all 7 stone of him, most of it smile.

We live in a world where unfortunately there are stabbings and shootings in schools, and these New Age grumblers reckon tig is unlawful. For me, playing tig allowed for one of the rare occasions when all the pent up energy and aggression of youth was released, with no questions asked. We don’t need less physical activity in schools, we need more!

Hide and Seek or
Hide and Seek or embarrassed by his parents?

It’s obvious what these domineering parents want. They’d like their precious Hugos and Henriettas to mature in a cozy womb of non-competition, where party bags are filled with gluten-free taste-free birthday cake and organic quinoa, and Goldilocks and the three bears create a new charity together. Once these kids have let go of their parent’s hands they’ll wobble out into the real worlds assertive environment to discover that unlike what mummy and daddy said, there are strong and weak, groups and rivals, and losing and winning. This lot won’t be hard to spot, they congregate in Starbucks sipping the latest oversized decaff (soy milk) frappacrappacino.

Martin Samuels and his band of namby-pambys haven’t stopped at tig, no of course not, they’re in for a penny in for a pound (or not a pounding it seems.) Other such victims in their Physical Education Hall of Shame are football, musical chairs, and cops-and-robbers. What is the justification for this madness? To restrict accidents (read: lawsuits) whilst reducing competition and maintaining children’s self-esteem.

Who are they trying to protect?
Who are they trying to protect?

If we’re allowing the banning of tig then what’s next to fall foul of the cotton-wool bullies?

• Hide and Seek. Children should never have to hide away or be pursued. Modern organic children roam free and only search for themselves. Psychologists believe time spent hiding from others will result in long term dependence issues.

• Rounders. ‘Stealing’ bases? ‘Hit and run’ rules? ‘Bats’ as equipment? No. No. No. No. No. NO. Any obstacles that prevent children from reaching ‘home’ are morally wrong, players should never be ‘out’, always ‘safe.’

• British Bulldogs/Red Rover. Unacceptable branding of kids as animals, whilst the term ‘Red’ encourages communism.

• Hopscotch. Binge drinking undertones. Insulting to Scots.

• Snap. Taking classmates playing cards promotes capitalism.

• Blind Man’s Bluff. Ridicules the visually impaired.

• Chess. Warmongering.

• Chinese Whispers. Xenephobic.

Turning fun a crime
Turning playground fun into a crime

If the politically correct pansies get their way then the next generation will be raised on games like:

• Duck-duck-duck. The teacher tiptoes their Birkenstocks delicately around the ring of children for 60 minutes, gently tapping each on the head. Protective helmets optional.

• Cotton Wool-Pillow-Bubble Wrap. A safer method of decision making than the overly violent Rock-Paper-Scissors.

• Invisible Skipping / Jump Rope. Just like regular solo or team skipping but without a rope. Also known as jumping.

I fear for the future of British school children; its time to stand up to these adult browbeaters. Come down off of your elegantly groomed dressage prize-winning high horses and let’s compromise. Rather than catching someone and calling out, “You’re it!” change it to “You’re special!” On second thoughts, perhaps not.

Children love to play, it’s what they’re made for. Sometimes, yes they get knocked down, but the lesson is getting back up, dusting yourself down, and getting back in the game. It’s essential that kids are allowed to be kids; especially in an atmosphere without fear. If kids are not scared of a scraped elbow, a damaged ego, or of being tagged “it” then they’ll be more inclined to follow their dreams as young adults. These kids are the future success stories who won’t be afraid of going for “it” in life. It is essential that adults take responsibility for controlling child bullying, not failing in their responsibility by banning childhood.


Let kids be kids