When freeze tag is outlawed, only outlaws will play freeze tag, or, I Will Steal The Bacon When I Damn Well Feel Like It

It's weird to think this guy would be bad at running a state, somehow

GateHouse — First of all, let me say that I fully support anything that outlaws dodgeball in any form. Yeah, you heard me, The Years 1987-1989, and you too, Delayed Onset Of Puberty.

Second of all, let me say that my son fully supports anything that outlaws freeze tag. The boy has been voicing his irrationally bilious, near-Gingrichian objection to freeze tag for months, on the admittedly understandable basis that freeze tag, unlike regular tag, does not offer a Base, the primal first-grade safety net that grants  utter invincibility to anyone who is, say, touching the monkey bars. From the bits of his argument I can glean in between his instructions for me to buy him things, the regular tag-vs.-freeze tag debate has been POLARIZING first-grade recess for months.

Happily for everyone, I have a solution: We are probably moving to New York State, where freeze tag and dodgeball were nearly outlawed by The Large And Overbearing Government, probably because children never played it in Kenya.


Bruce Springsteen – Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (piano version)


Bureaucrats in New York state, identified with great redundancy as “bureaucrats” in apparently every story ever written about this, announced last week that such age-old street games as dodgeball and freeze tag required legislation because they posed  a significant risk of injury, which is, of course, the reason why 85% of kids do 95% of the things they do: because of that youthful, inextinguishable hope that someone will be atrociously damaged, via, with any luck, firecrackers.

Other games on the list read like a list of my own third-grade playground’s most popular pastimes: Wiffle Ball, Red Rover, Steal the Bacon, kickball, dodgeball, throw-the-kickball-at-Jeff, throw-dodgeballs-at-Jeff-right-away and hit-kickballs-at-Jeff-with-Wiffle-Ball-bats. Come to think of it I went to a really inventive elementary school.

“It looks like Albany bureaucrats are just looking for kids to sit in a corner in a house all day and not be outside,” said Republican state Sen. Patty Ritchie, an Albany bureaucrat who sits in a corner in an office all day.

“I don’t think Wiffle Ball is a dangerous sport,” the senator continues, having clearly never spoken to my cousin Lisa, who was thwacked in the nose in a particularly tragic and frequently rewound 1983 Vrabel family home video in a Wiffle Ball incident for which I, um, never appropriately apologized. Sorry, cousin. For what it’s worth you didn’t cry much, even with the extravagance of blood.

OK, it’s here that we should step back for a little perspective: First of all, I wasn’t aware Steal the Bacon was an actual game; I just thought it was something Grandma liked us to do at Jewel. Second, and let’s just be honest, Red Rover was little more than a supremely efficient road to a dislocated shoulder.

Anyway, last week the New York Health Department — a total OXYMORON, am I right? #zinger — published a list of what it deemed risky recreational activities, which included such actually perilous pursuits as archery (dangerous), scuba (65% fatality rate) and horseback riding (certain death), in response to a 2009 state law that legislators and, one assumes, bureaucrats said afforded indoor camp programs too little oversight. Under the new laws, any program that offered two or more activities, with at least one on the Danger list, would be subject to state regulation.

As you would expect, the Internet read this as “Pencil-necked bureaucrats and humor writers hate freeze tag let’s all make fun of them ha!” and griped on the Internet so much that the Bureaucrats abandoned the list, which was incidentally more for guidance than anything and not expected to have much practical application. Such Internet outrage, incidentally, is also what got “Weird Al” Yankovic got his Lady Gaga parody approved. WHAT’S UP DEMOCRACY.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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