The New York State Health Department bureau-nerds need to get out more. Their latest PR blunder was deciding that such popular children’s games as steal the bacon, tag and Wiffleball are actually dangerous activities posing “significant risk of injury” and should be severely restricted by law.
Taking the “Nanny State” idea to absurd extremes, the proposed legislation would have destroyed many small, independent recreational programs, making them register with the state as summer camps, pay a $200 fee (to guess who) and hire expensive medical staffs.
“This is absolutely crazy,” said Dave Mullany, president of Wiffle Ball Inc. “Amid all the talk of us becoming a nation of overweight kids, we really need to promote activity and kids having fun. Should these children go to camp and sit quietly with their hands folded?”
To be fair, the program did leave room for frustrated kids attending these centers to let off steam in other ways; for example, by hurling profanities at their killjoy counselors and each other–as long as the kids didn’t move.
The bureau-nerds suggested that other, less risky games be substituted (checkers?) or perhaps ones popular in Albany such as steal the campaign funds and hide the graft.
But this unnamed state initiative (“No Child Left Without a Huge Behind?”) had to be scrapped when the Health Department was mocked and berated mercilessly by outraged program directors, parents, newspaper opinion pieces and letters to the editor.
“If we left it up to the Health Department, we’d have a bunch of overweight little wussies waddling around,” was one of the kinder letters.
Properly chastised, the Health Department ripped up the silly list–and promptly decided to make another silly list.
“We are coming up with a new list,” crowed Health Department spokeswoman Claudia Hutton, “but are going to do it in a more sensitive fashion.”
Hutton promised the new list of banned children’s games will be available by mid-May, just in time to ruin the summer for the kids. Thanks, Health Department!