Sports Day Sucks!
It occurred to me today how utterly despicable School Sports Days are nowadays. Nobody in their right mind enjoys sports days. Years ago it was a different story and sports day held notions of fun, mild peril and an opportunity to make fun of your mam and dad in the parents race. Nowadays, sports day holds none of the aforementioned resemblance and it’s enough to make you weep – in fact, if I’d remembered to fill my coffee-flask with Gin & Tonic today, you may well have found me under the bushes crying.
Several years ago, some bloke in a stuffy office, probably wearing brown socks and a tea stained shirt decided that children of today should not be exposed to a bit of competition and schools across the land threw away all their hessian sacks and plastic eggs and spent a portion of their school budget on plastic cones and foam rockets. Little did he know he would create the monster that is the present-day Sports Day.
You spend an hour thinking it would be less painful to stick pencils in your eye than to watch the ‘wholesome activities’ that have been put on in the middle of the field. Throwing bean bags into hoops may seem like an innocuous event that could possibly illicit a bit of fun, especially if there’s an element of competition between you and your classmates but as if to pacify the bloke in the brown socks and tea stained shirt, they take all the fun out of it by turning a blind eye to who actually gets it into the hoops! Are you with me? So, effectively you have 200 kids throwing beanbags into hoops, rockets as far as they can, jumping as far as they can, and all for no reason – no one’s counting, no one’s measuring, no one’s interested and no one’s really watching, all because we may be putting too much pressure on the kids to compete against one another. It’s so boring. For everyone involved. *Makes mental note to take g&t and jar of pencils next year*
And then, once you’ve endured an hour of torturous boredom and your thumbs are aching from signalling praise to your child across a field(somebody’s got to!), the tables turn. The second part of sports day begins. Everyone’s directed to the running track and the fizz is palpable. You may be forgiven for thinking I would be pleased that the proper races were to begin and that I’m all for a bit of healthy competition but you’d be wrong. This part of the event is as bad as the first half, if not worse – especially if you measure it on how many kids end up crying their eyes out! You see, there can only be one winner. How many times have you heard an adult say ‘I remember my sports day – I always came second to Julie Jenkins’ ?? Sports day running races leave scars and even second place isn’t good enough! Kids put pressure on themselves and this is then compounded by the fact their mam and dad are watching – it’s just too much! I’m sure I saw some parents sneaking a red-bull into their kids water bottles yesterday pre-race, and I would not have been surprised at all if 50% of the kids had been fed a Berocca with their morning porridge (porridge is a slow release energy breakfast don’t you know!). I definitely heard conversations about buying proper running shoes and getting them to train beforehand!! And come on, fist punching the air when your kid comes first!?
My eldest has never been particularly sporty and for us sports days were utterly pointless, she’s not bothered and neither were we, but that didn’t stop me wanting to shout ‘ah yes, but at least she’s not as thick as your kid in maths’ at the parents ‘aww-ing’ her when she came last! Is that wrong? See, all the parents know who the athletic kids are – it’s laid out for all to see once a year on the school field. So why don’t they give awards ceremony’s for the brightest kids who get the best grades – it’s the same thing! But then there’s my youngest, who actually quite enjoys sport and wants to do well but will never out-perforn the kids who are running triathlons each weekend, and rightly so, but wouldn’t it be great if average kids could just enjoy sports day? So here’s my proposition…
Bring Back Old Style Sports Day
The three-legged race promotes teamwork, the wheelbarrow race promotes teamwork, passing the football with your knees promotes teamwork and all with the added advantage of hilarity, and the occasional accident from over enthusiastic wheelbarrow pushers – but hey, what’s a broken arm if in the name of fun!? And don’t forget the sack race and the egg and spoon race – both skills you will never need for the rest of your life and therefore no one places you on a pedestal if you do win or not. (Or maybe I’m wrong, perhaps there is a career out there for excellent sack-jumpers?) You get my point though – there’s competition at the right level, we all want to see our kids beaming from winning a race but everyone goes home feeling neighbourly and there are no signs of arrogance because we all know : this years three-legged winners are just as likely to be next years spoon-losers!
What do you think? Are you a red-bull wielding parent or are you in my camp? I would love to know!