Friday, 8 July 2011

Non Competitive Sport

Well yesterday was my first experience of a sports day (well since the torture of being involved in one myself as a child). It was with some trepidation that I walked into the school grounds. My overarching concern being that I would be required to enter some kind of parent race. My days of being able to complete a sprint are well over. Plus I am haunted by a memory of running in a race at primary school, putting my foot into the goal post hole and falling on my face. Maybe that's why they called it the flat race.

Fortunately I needn't have worried as it was a "non competitive sports day". Seemingly gone are the days of the egg and spoon race , the potato race and the getting ready for school race. Obviously the sack race would today be a health and safety nightmare and no-one could even consider the three legged race for fear of injuries and/or offending someone with more than two legs.

So essentially each teacher had to lead (and at times herd) a team of children of varying ages and abilities around a series of activities, scoring points as they went. I felt it was a little much to expect a five year old to be able to clear hurdles, albeit miniature ones, but Tilly was valiant all the same. She also gave a good go at skipping , scoring a goal (against a member of the PTA who probably only turned up to make the coffee), and a variety of other things.

For many of the activities the rules were, shall we say, unclear. It became evident that the teachers had a different view of "non competitive sports day". At points the rules were being tailored as they saw fit and for various activities the children were asked to add up their own score (which routinely then went into the hundreds). I'm not saying they were lying about their scores but I think it's hard for a five year old to concentrate on catching a ball in a cup, chase it all over the playground and remember how many times they caught it at the same time. A friend's son came over at one point and asked his mum what number he should say as he couldn't keep count. She suggested "8" and the teacher said "no it must have been more like 20".

It was also somewhat interesting to watch the supporters. Most parents, like me, looked embarrassed as they shouted out encouraging words and gave a ripple of applause when their child passed through a hula hoop. A large number of fathers seemed to appear from nowhere to join in at the "Beat the Goalie" activity. One father felt the need to firmly stress to his daughter the need to "stay behind the line" when taking her throw otherwise her "points wouldn't count". Which was ironic during an activity where all the children threw their darts at the teacher simultaneously and were making up their own scores anyway.

At the end of the sports day the scores were added up. I think there may have been a steward's enquiry about one activity. Sufficed to say many of the parents were unamused that the Tigers scored over 300 hundred points to the Squirrels' 26. I saw several taking photos of the score board. Presumably to write a stern letter to the head.

Tilly's team won. So it wasn't overall "non competitive" but the event was firmly focused on team work which was actually quite lovely.

Anyway all the children all got a free ice pop and went away happy. They seemed to really enjoy themselves. I suspect the teachers were harbouring much more of a "non competitive grudge" and the discussions in the staff room I suspect could have been frosty.

Me, I was just happy I stayed upright and didn't embarrass myself or more importantly my children.

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