Smack! Injured kid sues school after dodgeball accident

Dodgeball: perhaps no grade school sport is infused with more cringing memories and dark humor.

And the story of 12-year-old Shane Reese surely has both elements, along with a little "what were they thinking?" and could spell doom for the activity's future in New York schools.

The boy's been offered $20,000 by the Bronx school district thanks to an accidental ball in the teeth. A judge will decide if that's enough.

Let's take you back to Dec. 22, 2008, at Intermediate School 219 in the Bronx, N.Y. It was a rainy day and really close to Christmas -- the Bronx school district doesn't let out for winter break until Dec. 24 -- so many teachers had already taken off for the holiday. What to do with 100 students cooped up and buzzing over the upcoming holidays? A friendly game of dodgeball, of course!

Off to the school gym they went, where it was extremely crowded and none of the traditional soft rubber balls were to be found. No matter: plenty of soccer balls were rolling around the equipment room. Those will work, right? (Ouch.)

As for Shane Reese, he'd been in a car accident and had just had some teeth repaired. Teachers let him sit out of the wild game. As his lawyer, Mark Weinberger, told the New York Daily News, "Soccer balls were flying all over the place." Shane, on a bleacher bench, got one full in the face, damaging his new bridgework.

Yes, dodgeball is allowed in Bronx schools, but it's been considered an "inappropriate activity" since 2006, according to a department spokesperson: "there is no formal ban."

And the National Association for Sports and Physical Education issued a statement in 2006 discouraging dodgeball. While the school department didn't go so far as to say they were now considering a formal ban; likely officials are waiting until the judge rules on Reese's compensation offer; it is probably an inevitable result of this accident.

While the incident is highly regrettable and I feel for Shane, I can't help but wondering if Ben Stiller is kicking himself for not having been cast as this kid, whose injuries; coming as they did to a child who'd just been in a car accident; prove the axiom that truth is stranger than fiction.

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