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Dodgeball is ‘oppressive’ and ‘dehumanizes’ people, research shows

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SILVER SPRING, MD – JULY 17: Co-founder Anders Gilbertson takes aim at an opponent during a game of ‘Dodgeball’ at a tennis court July 17 in Silver Spring, MD. The sport is played on a tennis court with two teams divided by the net. The object is to hit your opponent with the ball without […]

(WFLA) – Dodgeball is a tool of oppression being used to dehumanize and harm people, according to a new study, The Washington Post reported. 

Canadian researchers made a presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Vancouver earlier this month after interviewing middle school age students about physical education courses in general.

The three professors said many of the students had complained about dodgeball in particular, so they began to research the sport more extensively. 

In 1990, Iris Marion Young, a political theorist, wrote an article entitled “Five Faces of Oppression,” in which she argues that there are five “faces” or types of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence, when “members of a group of lower standing know they have been subject to random, unprovoked attacks.”

All five traits matched up with the answers given by students, according to  Joy Butler, a professor who studies pedagogy and curriculum development at the University of British Columbia. 

“The message is that it’s okay to hurt or dehumanize the ‘other,’” Butler said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The competition is about annihilating one’s opponent, and the true definition of competition is between two evenly matched teams. Well, kids stack their teams, and they really enjoy beating the other team. What’s the enjoyment of that?”

The studies will be published in an upcoming edition of the European Physical Education Review. 

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