Saturday, August 29, 2009

Childhood Games Most Likely to Cause Injury

Although this topic is quite straightforward, let me point out a few brief things. First, while some games like Monopoly make you want to punch a family member in the face, boardgames are excluded from this list. Instead I want to focus on ones that are often played at school, birthday parties, family picnics, and outdoor events. Also, while dodgeball seems like a perfect fit for this list, you play with rubber balls designed to be thrown at people, and I've yet to see anyone seriously hurt while playing.

5.Tug of War
A long time ago a bunch of people got bored, found a rope, and had the bright idea to see who was better at yanking friends off their feet into a mud pit. The concept is simple enough; a pure test of strength and endurance as two teams pull a rope in opposing directions. Not only are you likely to be knocked to the ground in a state of exhaustion, but think of all the arguments you can start with your friends afterward. Kids fighting over not having a good grip, someone pulling too soon, and who cheated by picking "the big kid".

Possible Injuries: Rope burn/ Dislocated Limbs/ Beaten by mother for getting mud on your school clothes.

4. Piñata
This game is unique because it's hazardous to everyone except the person playing it. Parents should always be wary of a child swinging a weapon at groin level. In fact, did you know that Piñata is the Spanish word for "Papa's shattered genitals"? Without the Piñata and people's pants frequently falling down, I doubt America's Funniest Home Videos would have ever existed. Who would have thought that child with club + blindfold + candy incentive = disaster?

Possible Injuries: Bludgeoning / Teeth Knocked the "F" out / Impact Castration

3. Musical Chairs
How can a game so seemingly innocent be so painful? It all starts well enough with cheerful music and children skipping around some chairs. But competition rears its ugly head; tensions mount, and suddenly you have multiple children hurling themselves backwards at the furniture. I can't think of a single time this game didn't end with someone crying or needing stitches. And let's not forget those asshole kids who steal the chairs away at the last minute. When the music stops in this game, it becomes a symphony of heads hitting hardwood floors.

Possible Injuries: Cracked Skulls / Contusions / Lifelong Distrust of Chairs

2. Red Rover
Two teams line up facing one another like armies meeting on the battlefield. Children hold hands and challenge a member of the opposing team to break the chain by running full speed at them. Jeez, they might as well call this game, "You Just Got Clotheslined!!!"? In fact, I don't even get the meaning of the name Red Rover. Maybe red refers to the blood you'll be coughing up after "winning". The whole game seems to be testing that hypothetical problem of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Anyway, it should come as no surprise that the resulting chaos and pain got the game banned from many schools.

Possible Injuries: Broken Arm / Crushed Windpipe / Human Car Accident

1. Play Fighting
This game is different each time since styles, objectives, and rules are all over the place. Whatever you happen to call this game - roughhousing, sparring, wrasslin' - it can only lead to one outcome. A sword fight with sticks means someone will get poked in the eyeball. Wresting on the sofa means someone will get the wind knocked out of them. Acting out a battle between vampires and werewolves means someone's younger sibling will be left in tears after getting shoved onto a gravel driveway.

In my own experience I've seen all sorts of injuries come about from play fighting. Broken toes, bloody noses, and even trips to the hospital. One minute myself and friends are whooping around the room with pretend lightsabers, and the next minute someone accidentally stabbed their hand on a pair of scissors. True story.

Possible injuries: Just about anything.


Cole D'Arc said...

As someone who used to make multiple trips to the hospital every summer, this list hits pretty close to home.
Although, as rhyo can attest, the heated games of dodgeball on the old Colby playground certainly led to some spectacular injuries. (never me though - i was too good)
I cracked up when i read the term "impact castration".
While the listed games at least have some manner of objective, kids such as myself took part in made-up stuff such as "throw yourself down the hill headfirst" and "clear the sprinkler from the deck" because sometimes, the road to serious injury just wasn't straightforward enough for us in the more conventional activities.

Shane Patenaude said...

Glad you enjoyed. And true enough, sir. kids will always find a way to hurt themselves beyond the confines of "a game". Like, "let's ride down the stairs in a cardboard box", or "I'm going to throw this heavy thing straight up, everyone run!", or who can forget, "I can ride a bike blindfolded and so can you!"

Sam said...

What about lawn darts? The leading cause of juvenile puncture in North America.

Shane Patenaude said...

Lawn darts were definately considered for this list. I played that game many times growing up and it always worried me to see metal spears being hurled around.

However, classic "I just impaled someone" lawn darts have been all but outlawed. You can still buy the game, but Nerf has sucked all the dangerous fun out of it with their foam design. Lame!