In an effort to get summer camps regulated (for a fee), New York bureaucrats recently decided to claim more sports as posing a "significant risk of injury." Their goal was to charge any summer recreational program $200 for a state permit, to ramp up training for existing staff, and expand safety guidelines if it offers two or more organized recreational activities, with at least one on this "risky" list.
New York's Health Department drafted a list of those "nonpassive recreational activities with a significant risk of injury." (Well, when you call them "nonpassive recreational activities," they do sound like a catastrophe waiting to happen.) But on the list were some of the most innocuous games known to children, not to mention summer staples and all-time classics.
If you just want money, why not just put every activity known to man there? Or just call any gathering of three or more people a "summer camp"?
On the surface, it's a good idea to prevent too many camp programs from operating without oversight. But classifying certain activities as dangerous is not the way to go about it.
For instance, tag is on the list. Tag! The oldest of all childhood games, it dates back to when only single-celled organisms populated the earth. All they had was tag! Then they evolved (sorry, creationists) into dinosaurs who invented eating and pooping, but that's another blog for another day.
And they specify "all varieties" of tag. I can understand "gun tag," but not "pinkie tag" where you merely touch someone with your pinkie and they’re "it."
And it's the physical nature of the sport that the higher-ups are against, not the mental torment one suffers by being becoming "it." Why hasn’t that been deemed traumatic and demoralizing? I was "it" once and felt bad, but I got over it ... at least consciously. (Hmm, perhaps that’s the reason I still sleep with Mr. Puffin, my stuffed monkey.)
Archery is on the same list as boating. At one point, the bow and arrow were the most deadly weapons known to man. Entire civilizations crumbled to the archers, especially when fire was added. No culture ever brought down another by ramming its yachts into shorelines. So archery should be considered dangerous, but boating, notsomuch.
And riflery -- Wait, camps are teaching riflery now?! What camp is this, The Columbine Day Camp for Wayward Youth? -- I think there should be an entirely different list for rifles. It's hard to believe people are focusing on clamping down on plastic, yellow, banana bats when other kids have guns. (Where's the NRA-equivalent of WIFFLE Ball bats?)
If some of those aren't questionable enough, just look at the list of "nonpassive recreational activities without significant risk of injury."
They call dancing/acting safe? There's truly nothing more damaging to a person's psyche than being told you didn’t get the lead in the school play. And dancing, oof, don’t get me started. Did you see "Black Swan?"… Well, neither did I, but I'm told it's messed up. Plus, stars who dance with other stars are frequently humiliated when they fall down. I'm sure Kirstie Alley and Marie Osmond would contend your ruling.
Cooking without knives is safe? You haven't eaten my mother's baked goods. One sponge cake, four counts of manslaughter -– you do the math.
Hide-and-seek? Safe? Ha! It is to laugh. You've obviously never hidden in a barrel teetering tenuously at the edge of Niagara Falls during an abnormally gusty day.
Duck Duck Goose? What if that goose contracts an aviary disease? Is it a safe game then?
Monkey in the middle? Do you want feces flung at you?
Tug of war? Well, I am impressed that all the liberals are suddenly okay with something containing "war" in the name. Let's put "tug of fun" on the list of those terms we should adapt.
Croquet? A big two-headed wooden mallet in the hands of a child is safe, track and field is not? I beg your pardon!
Who is working the New York Deparment of Health? Aliens. Those who have no idea about these games they’re mentioning? Welcome to Earth.
Yes, kickball and tag and tennis all pose a significant threat of injury. There are balls hurtling at you and it requires effort on your part. Your muscles and tendons may betray you if you try to start running too quickly or turn on a dime.
But what about eating? If you eat too fast, you're liable to get indigestion. Or sitting? You try to get up and you realize your butt has fallen asleep? Or you get up too fast, get dizzy, fall over, and hit your head on the table. It’s a very delicate act, standing is.
I looked up the definition of camp and it says – "a place where kids go to have fun and get injured during the summer months." (Ah, that Wikipedia.)
Glenn Blain of the Daily News Albany Bureau interviewed one Bronx resident (who shall remain brainless) who said, "Kids these days are kinda brutal." (If by “these days,” you mean, "throughout the history of man," then you have a point.) "So I can see those games being dangerous. I agree with it." She then went back to playing solitaire, during which she got a paper cut by flipping over the cards too quickly.
But I shouldn't be so cruel, for there are many more of these people out there. Shockingly, and I mean shockingly, the on-line poll on that paper's site was 85 percent in favor of the classification. This, of course, does not indicate if people taking it were deranged or if it was one person voting again and again or if Albanians (Albanians?) simply have a sense of irony when taking on-line polls.
Perhaps they see solitary interaction while sitting and developing obesity is the only safe activity with which video games and television provide us. Yes, there’s Wi Fitness, but if that’s your only fitness, then "Wii" might as well stand for "wildly idealistic idiot."
Or maybe you think even the Wii is too dangerous. Repetitive motion injuries and eye strain are only two of the ailments which may befall you. Lest us not forget about couch potatism and what is now being termed ABS or Angry Bird Syndrome, which is when instead of having disagreements face-to-face with someone, you instead hurl yourself at them using a slingshot.
All that said, after a moment of insanity, the state bureaucrats have come to their senses and decided to redraft the list. This time, maybe they’ll put paper football on the list, watching "Jersey Shore," or the very dangerous act of listening to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) speak, which has been known to cause nausea and dizziness in intelligent adults. Oh, Mr. Puffin, people can be so crazy.
One can only hope and pray these are added, for the hope of our future. As for me, I'm going to go do a little backyard bull fighting now as, fortunately, that’s not on the list.
-- The preceding blog is the opinion of Andy Wasif only and does not represent the views and opinions of The PostGame, the Daily News Albany Bureau, Rep. Michele Bachmann, or anyone named Thad.