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I'm a mother and I have a daughter in high school. She is taking a gym class that has both boys and girls. The teacher is a woman. Sometimes, they play a classic game called capture the flag. But they don't exactly play it the traditional way because they wear tails while playing. By tails, I mean that it's a type of jersey called a pinny. You have to tuck the pinny into your backside, between your shorts and your underwear. To get someone eliminated from the game, you have to pull out their tail. My daughter is a pretty good athlete. That's why when she was playing capture the flag recently, multiple boys ran up to her at the same time. They tried to pull out her tail and they were quite aggressive about it. She fell down, but not before they had lowered her shorts a little bit and exposed her underwear. They didn't do it on purpose and they apologized. They were playing on a big field, and no one else noticed, but she was still really embarrassed. We both think that this game is inappropriate. Should we both complain to the teacher, or should my daughter do it herself? Or should we keep quiet?

Also, had you ever heard of this variation of capture the flag?

  • Without knowing the age it's hard to make a better answer than those provided. You can also remember that, around 15 year old, boys are separated from girls in a lot of physical sports, because it can get dangerous. Of course Gym is not one of those, but rough games like that one fit the bill. – MakorDal May 12 at 9:20
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Played it as a kid in the exact same way and there is nothing wrong with it on itself. The problem was probably that your daughters " tail" was tugged in a bit to deep so it took her shorts down when it got pulled out. So maybe advise her to make her tail barely inside her shorts.

Also this game was popular here ad possibly is also popular there, If due to your complaints the game get banned your daughter will have to deal with angry/disappointed classmates which would probably cause more harm to her then fix anything.

But besides that, when i was in high school accidents like this just happen...so unless you want to ban gym as a whole...some examples:

A girl (14) on a trampoline (she wasn't wearing a bra and was wearing a lose fitting shirt) accidentally had one of her breasts exposed...should we ban trampolines or should she have worn different clothing?

A girl (15) was standing in front of me while playing golf, when she took a swing her sweatpants dropped dragging the back of her underwear with it (full moon)...luckily i was the only one who noticed and promised to keep it a secret...but was it Golfs fault? i think not.

2 (around 13) boys playing rugby, one boy tackled the other and accidentally pulled down the boys shorts and underwear...and crashed head first in the others exposed but... should rugby be banned (probably but not because of this tho)

You can't prevent incidents, that's why they are incidents... just hope for the best and be casual about it when they do happen... next week her class would have forgotten all about it and moved on to the next thing that has happened.

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Please note that this is my personal opinion. We played this version in school as well, the tail was the ribbon loops otherwise used to mark opposing teams. Of course the more of the ribbon one tucked in, the harder it was for the other players to grab the tail - and the higher the risk of a slight underwear exposure when they did.

Reading your post, I think you can calm down. You write:

They didn't do it on purpose and they apologized.

You don’t tell us the age of the kids, but if you have no reason to assume malicious intent and if you remember that the boys are growing rapidly in high school and sometimes struggle to “dose” their physical strength, I would probably just let it be. I don’t know about your cultural context, but in mine, inadvertently exposing a tiny bit of underwear is not a big deal.

Now, if this should happen again, anyone is making jokes about the incident or anything else makes you change your assessment of the situation, I would recommend getting the teacher involved. If you want to take some action now, then suggest that the teacher gives some guidance to the class that everyone should be a bit more careful when playing.

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  • I also don't read malicious intent into this. I think the question re complaining to the teacher was not about complaining about the boys, but rather complaining about the game? – dxh Mar 15 at 7:07
  • It may be time to mention to the teachers that high school students should not be in mixed gender sports classes. In my country, the sports lessons are single gender from age 12 up, unless there is only very few of one gender in a school with mostly the other gender. (And then they are often excused for sports lessons if conflicts develop.) – Willeke May 17 at 13:19
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This is a pretty classic game because you really don't need too much. There are loads of accidents that happen, whether it be someone running into you (and both of you getting broken fingers) or accidentally pulling on shorts (it happened to me). Some people wont mind it as much, because some people are more comfortable with their bodies or dont mind being seen like that. I was a swimmer and biker, so i didnt really care, because loads of people had seen me in a swimsuit before, and I had a good build, but some people would be totally embarrassed.

This does happen a lot, so a whole bunch of schools use flag belts for games like this. Flag belts are cheap nylon belts with 3 flags on them. One on the left, right, and back. There's a small clip in the front that goes onto the other end of the belt. It's designed so that when the flag is grabbed, the whole belt comes off. There are other designs where the flag and belt have Velcro and only the flag comes off. Maybe you can suggest these as an alternative?

Having your shorts pulled can happen with either a belt or jersey in your pants, but usually its an accident. If those kids are known for doing stuff like that, or have a bad reputation, then I would definitely say something, but if it really was an accident, just leave it and only worry next time.

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To answer your last question, yes, I recall that variation of the game from school as well. But don't take that as an excuse, there are a lot of things that were going on in school back when I went that I would find problematic today.

It's not inconceivable that the same thing might happen again, and that's not an embarrassment the school should expose your child to. Chances are she'll be reluctant to participate, which'd be a shame. I would raise this issue with the teacher, and I think you could easily persuade them to modify the game into something more appropriate. I'm not surprised if this is just something that has been allowed to continue because no-one has thought to question it.

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