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27 Jun 2011

Sport's Day... Running To Set Our Kids Up For A Fall?

Today was "sport's day" at school, if you can still call it that!  It's now so far away from the sport's day that you or I remember. When I was little we had sack races and egg & spoon races, the 100m, the obstacle race and who can forget the Mums & Dads race! It was a harmless day of competition. It was all about cheering your friends on and talking about who was the fastest at running.  Agonising over who you could tie your leg to for the three legged race. It was about whose Dad would win the last race, laughing at the one who came last and cheering for the Dad that overtook the Dad who won last year right at the last minute.   For parents, it was all about shouting and cheering for your brood until your throat hurt.  It was about making a total twat of yourself trying to jump 100m in a hessian sack and having a fun afternoon off work to cheer on  your children whilst sitting in the Summer sun on a chair your behind barely fitted in as parents beamed proudly as their child accepted their medal and then staying on the school  field until the late afternoon.

It's all different now, there is no racing, no egg and spoon race and no parents or carers are given the chance to show themselves up for a few minutes in the sack race, because there are no races.  In fact there is nothing competitive about it at all and it lacks in "real" sport.  The kids from years 4-6 were split into 12 teams and each team had 4 minutes to take part in each of the twelve activities.  These were things such as kick a ball around a cone, shoot a hoop with the basketball,  throw a bean bag into a bucket and manoeuvre a hockey ball with a stick around the cones...you get the idea, right?  It was an afternoon of team games where there were no winners and no losers and everyone got a carton of drink and a pat on the back for taking part.  They all patted themselves on the back, as instructed and were expected to feel proud of what they had been part of. 



I'd love to know what happened First, Second and Third.  

What happened to the running? The throwing yourself into, on to and under, random obstacles at great speed? Or the amazing effort which was exerted to make sure the egg stays on the spoon whist your running? What happened to the lessons learned when it comes to achieving your goals?  School is meant to teach our children the things that they need to know to get along in life and they do to a certain degree although it seems like an important life lesson is missing there. Kids need to know about winning and losing, it happens all the time in grown up life.  There will be the times when you don't get the job you wanted because someone was better than you.  There are times when you won't be a winner just for taking part and I believe that Children need to learn that. It's a good life skill that cannot often be practised in a home environment so it needs to be learnt at school.  Sports day is the perfect opportunity so why has it become this way.  Sure, it's hard to see your child be disappointed but it is something I feel is necessary for certain aspects of development in a child.  I mean, no one likes a sore loser, right?  Yet this is what we are creating, a generation of sore losers who do not know how to compete.

Some schools think that competitiveness can damage a child's self esteem; I think that not enough competition does the exact same thing.  This leads me to the question... With the massive alteration of sports day in Primary schools, are we inadvertently running to set our kids up for a fall?



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