Teens Lose Fingers in Game of Tug-O-War

In a tragic game of tug-o-war at a Los Angeles County high school on Monday, two teens lost several fingers each when the rope snapped. An 18-year-old girl lost four fingers from her right hand and her left thumb, and her male classmate, also 18, lost four fingers from his right hand.

The students were competing in South El Monte High School’s Spirit Week during the lunch hour. The injuries appear to have happened because the students wrapped the rope around their hands for more traction rather than just gripping it. They were taken to a nearby trauma center to try to reattach their fingers, but information isn't known yet as to whether they were successful.


My first thought upon hearing this was, “Oh that suuuuucks,” and the second followed on its heels, “How long before schools start banning tug-o-war?” This particular high school hasn’t said yet whether it will ban the activity, but given the trend in playground rules in recent years to practically wrap our kids in bubble wrap, it’s a definite possibility.

Side note: Last year when my daughter was 3, she fell off the monkey bars and knocked her front two teeth out. She said, “I wath on dah monkey bars, an’ I thaid, ‘Weeeee!’ An’ den nobody catched me.” I did not feel the need to ask the church group she was with to remove the dangerous monkey bars.

Anyway, there are a whole host of ‘violent’ playground games and activities that our kids will likely never experience on school grounds. Some of these might be valid, depending on your perspective, but others seem pretty ridiculous.

Red rover, red rover, send nobody right over, because that game is the number one cause of broken arms in childhood. Actually, that would be bicycle riding or roller sports. Ban all the wheels! Speaking of wheels ... 

Tire swings cause broken femurs. Actually, I think it’s the falling off of them that causes that, but whatever. They’re obviously too dangerous for our children to play with responsibly.

Running. Seriously. Running. No wonder childhood obesity is a thing.

Dodgeball has been called ‘aggressive’ and ‘unwholesome’ by many school administrators. The game that involves pegging children on the opposing team with balls until the last man’s left standing is also known as bombardment, killer ball, or even murder ball.

Imaginative play like Cops & Robbers has got to go, because heaven forbid kids bring handguns to school! And by handguns, I mean hands. Two 6-year-olds were recently suspended for pointing their fingers at each other and making banging noises with their mouths.

Do you think there’s any merit to some of these bans? Or have we taken the whole playground safety issue too far?

Image via scott1723/Flickr

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