Friday, October 18, 2013

Listeners Bean Parents After Dodgeball Conversation

The debate in Congress was about the debt ceiling, and the government shutdown. But listeners had their own showdown over dodgeball. Editor Ammad Omar and host Michel Martin dig through the listener inbox for backtalk.

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And now it's time for Backtalk. That's where we hear from you. Editor Ammad Omar is back with us once again. What's going on today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel, so it's been a week of heated debate here in Washington. As you know, we've had the shutdown, the debt ceiling debate. But if you look at our listener inbox, nothing got the passions more heated than our conversation about dodgeball.


RIP TORN: (As Patches O'Houlihan) If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.

JUSTIN LONG: (As Justin) What?

MARTIN: OK. That's from the movie "Dodgeball." But in our parenting roundtable, we talked about schools that are banning the game from playgrounds in real life. Some of our panelists said dodgeball was good for kids and that they can learn some life lessons from it. But Jeff Yang from The Wall Street Journal said it has no place in schools. And they both got beamed from some listeners, right?

OMAR: Yeah, so first of all, we got this note from Kathy Wineman (ph) from Indianapolis. She says, quote, as I was driving in the car today listening to the program, I was infuriated with the discussion about dodgeball. People were looking at me as they drove by while I screamed at the radio. Michel, dodgeball is not a sport. I was furious with the inane comments the women on the panel made about, quote, it can build character. We can't all be great athletes blah, blah, blah. They were missing the point entirely. Dodgeball is, as Jeff Yang implied, an outlet for bullies to literally beat the underdog in a sanctioned game, air quotes. Kathy goes on to say, when I found out that dodgeball was being played in my children's high school gym classes, I called the teachers and said if I ever heard of dodgeball being played again they would be answering a call from my lawyer and they knew I meant it.

MARTIN: It sounds like she did, but we also got this note from a Ana Valava (ph) in Macon, Illinois. She says, I'm listening to your guest who is against playing dodgeball in schools and I am appalled by her nonsensical opinion. I grew up in Bulgaria where we played dodgeball every day in recess and after school. I was one of those kids who initially was among the first to be eliminated, however, I continued to play.

My reactions became faster and I started throwing the ball much better myself. And as a result, I became one of the strongest players. The contemporary trend in the U.S. to overprotect children from the possibility or the realization of their own underperformance is nothing else but damaging to their development. I have not seen a single successful person who's not experienced failure, end quote. So there you go. Ana, Kathy, thank you both for writing in, as well as everybody else who weighed in with some very strong opinions, Ammad.

OMAR: I'm pro-dodgeball myself, so I might be dodging some hate mail this week.

MARTIN: OK. Well, you're on your own on that one. Thanks, Ammad. Thanks to everybody for your comments. Remember to tell us more about dodgeball or anything else we've covered over the course of the week. You can check us out on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter where we are @TELLMEMORENPR. And, Ammad, I understand you're going to be sticking around, following us into the Barbershop where we are talking about the baseball playoffs and other news of the week. That is next on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

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