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Poor sportsmanship led Utah elementary school principal to ban football, soccer at recess

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HERRIMAN, Utah — Students at Herriman Elementary School in Utah were dismayed when their principal temporarily banned football and soccer at recess for what she called poor sportsmanship.

“If we ban football and soccer, then we may as well ban school altogether,” said sixth-grader Henry Watson.

The students knew principal Kim Gibson had their safety in mind, but they immediately took action.

“We wrote a petition and went around getting people to sign it,” said sixth-grader Ethan Probst.

They also launched a safety campaign. It called for producing a video with safety tips to demonstrate best practices, including no tackling during touch football, creating a recess safety team, and playground swing and slide safety.

“I like that the principal was trying to keep us safe, but the principal can’t do everything,” said Watson.

The students took their campaign to the community council, where all their hard work won over council members and the principal.

“The ban was immediately lifted with a stipulation a video would be produced,” said Kami Greenhagen-Jones, a member of the community council.

Students produced their video, complete with examples of what not to do on the playground. And the games are on again at recess.

In the process, the sixth-graders learned a valuable lesson.

“Instead of just whining about it, we actually did something to get it back,” said Probst.

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