Don't have too much fun. In fact, don't have any fun. You could hurt yourself! That's the thinking of all too many government entities these days—and it's why local officials are increasingly likely to shut down the neighborhood sledding hill.
According to the Associated Press, sledding prohibitions are more and more common:
No one tracks how many cities have banned or limited sledding, but the list grows every year. One of the latest is in Dubuque, Iowa, where the City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban sledding in all but two of its 50 parks.
"We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them," said Marie Ware, Dubuque's leisure services manager. "We can't manage the risk at all of those places."
In the bureaucrat's defense, government is not solely responsible for all the fun-killing. When kids get hurt, their parents sue, and these liability concerns have made it too costly for local authorities to run the risk.
Shifting societal attitudes have played a role as well, according to the AP:
Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.
"It's a great idea on the frontier, but we don't live on the frontier anymore," Bond said.
It seems to me there is some comfortable room between the Wild West frontier of days past and the bubble-wrapped nanny state we live in now. Perhaps the government could protect our basic safety needs while still allowing for a bit of winter fun?
For more on the subject of overprotective parenting via the state, check out Lenore Skenazy's archive.