Iowa School District Wants to Do Away With Running as Punishment

By Sam Saltess

If you did practically any kind of sport in your middle or high school days, you probably had to (or if you’re me, more than once…) run bleachers or laps as punishment. Whether your performance flat out sucked, or someone was goofing off, running has always been used as a punishment for bad sports behavior.

But an Iowa school district may soon end that, as a Des Moines school district released a report to  the Des Moines Register that said they believe a coach at Lincoln High school who made an athlete run at practice could be guilty of inflicting corporal punishment on the student.

You might think they’re joking, but they are completely serious.

Mike Dick, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union executive director, told the newspaper, “Good common sense would indicate we’re past using conditioning and running in a punitive manner,” said Dick. “To use conditioning as punishment is “almost vindictive in nature.”

Running as discipline is discouraged by National Association of Sport and Physical Education, a group that promotes professional standards for youth health and education. Meaning the Des Moines school district officials aren’t the only ones who think running, a sport that millions willfully choose to participate in on their own, is “corporal punishment.”

The investigation stemmed from one incident where Lincoln High School football coach Tom Mihalovich required a sophomore player to run sprints and laps as punishment for making derogatory comments about the school’s varsity squad.

According to officials, the Lincoln sophomore football player ran about 20 hill sprints, completed 20 up-down drills, ran two laps around the practice field and did more hill sprints — all in 30 minutes.

Coming from someone who was forced to runs laps after laps and bleachers after bleachers for “depants-ing” a fellow junior varsity cheerleader at a football game freshman year (14-year-olds are really mature), running is not the worst punishment a coach can enforce. Can it be considered corporal punishment? In the technical term, yes. It’s defined physical force or physical contact made with the intent to harm or cause pain. Although one can argue there was no physical contact or force, the coach did force him to do the running, but isn’t that what a coach is for? To push his or her athletes to do their best, and to help teach them right from wrong?

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. I’m thinking it’s not the coach and his use of punishment that is the problem, but the district officials and their old school ideas.

Let us know if you agree in the comments.

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