Sports day. To steal Jon Snow’s phrase – It is coming. Unless you’ve already had it in which case you may well have had some tears, temper tantrums and overall stress. You may have had some serious excitement too, it’s not all doom and gloom!
I despised sports day at school. Hated it with such passion that I would use any excuse not to go. I remember one year, back when it was acceptable to bully children at school, the teachers told our year group that any form (class group) that didn’t have full attendance would be disqualified, so any child that won anything would lose it because of their peers that didn’t turn up. As you can imagine that was a particularly awful week for me, especially as I didn’t turn up. I wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway, I had spent so long being bullied for being “fat” that I couldn’t play sports in front of anyone in the end. I have been with my husband ten years this year and I have only just started running with him, trusting him not to ridicule me for “jiggling” everywhere. The darkest times during all of this bullying centred around sports day, and caused so much trauma.
To me, sports day is outdated and unnecessary. It should be optional, and is definitely not something that I think children should be taken out of class to practice for. You can run the three legged race? Awesome, but you missed that part of the curriculum because of it? No thanks. Now, I’m not an idiot, I realise that for Sports day is a world of fun for a tonne of kids. Adam was one of them and the boys seem to really relish the chance show off and enjoy a bit of sport! Physical activity is important, and I do think that sports day gives children the chance to really try out sports that they maybe wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Reuben loves running, he hates cricket and football at the moment, much to Daddy’s heart break, but he loves running. He loves to race, like a lot of young boys, so for him, there is an excitement in Sports day.
But what if he, like me, hated it?
In a modern day where we know how unacceptable it is for children to be made to feel victimised and bullied, I really don’t think that there should be such pressure around sports day. It SHOULD be optional.
I know that might come over as whishy-washy and people may say “well why not make maths optional” or any other subject you “just don’t like”, but I think this is different. Physical Education is not optional, it is mandatory and it is vitally important to keep our children active and get them out there trying new sports that they may well love. Sports day is not like that. Sports day is a whole afternoon, or in some cases day, of sport. Of showing off your skills or lack there of to parents, friends, strangers. It’s intimidating, and it’s too much for some kids. While it is an opportunity to teach our children about kindness, humility and the that it’s ok to lose sometimes, I would challenge anyone to tell me they haven’t seen at least one child being laughed at at Sports Day. Trust me, that will stick with them for life.
I love watching my son’s sports day, he is so pleased with the opportunity to run, jump and try out new things, but I would be a liar if a small part of me didn’t cringe inside every time I hear the words “Sports day”, it holds so many bad memories for me. If there comes a time that any of the children feel that Sports day isn’t for them, then I won’t make them participate.
What are your memories of Sports day?