It is the season to hold sports days at school in my homeland. We used to have them around National Sports Day, a holiday in early October, but apparently they have shifted to this time of the year because the weather is milder and more suited to hold outdoor activities. Ah, how times have changed… makes me feel really old!
But this is not the only shift that we are seeing in sports days. Some parents have demanded that their children not be “ranked.” As a result, children contend in different track and field competitions, but some schools have stopped awarding them for high placement. Some have even stopped competitions altogether, having children cross the finish line together, hand in hand.
Yet, at other schools, competitions begins well before sports day. Parents take their children to “running lessons” to be taught by athletes the techniques in running and winning races… not so cheap, so only those who can afford them can attend. (Parents may want to take the same lessons, for they must compete to find the best place to record their children in action!)
And then, there is the “lunch box competition,” which has nothing to do with sports but everything to do with doing well at sports days – children are unofficially but definitively judged on the gorgeousness of the lunch boxes their parents prepare for them on this day.
By now, you must be wondering who the sports days are being held for – children or parents? And for what purpose or objective are they being held for – for children to enjoy physical activities and fair play, or for parents to reassure themselves of how well (they think) they are raising their children, at any cost?
Okay, so maybe not all kids do well on sports days… I for one cannot recall ever earning a ribbon for my performance.
But maybe, for some kids, sports days are the best days on which to do well and be recognized for what they are good at.
Then, maybe it is not fair to take away or limit their chance of doing well because not all kids had a chance of doing well.
Yes kids, life is not fair. But no parents, I do not think this is the way to teach this lesson. What is not fair is the outcome – we cannot always come out winners in all competitions. But we should all be allowed fair opportunity to compete.
And maybe if we can teach fair competition – which you win or lose for what you put in and not because of outside forces or seemingly irrelevant factors – then kids can all grow up to be good sports even when life turns out to be not so fair.
Maybe I have no ribbons to show for sports day, but I would like to think I earned a few being a good sport. And I would like to believe I will earn a few more being a good sport in life. Parents, I hope you will teach your kids how to earn them, and kids, I hope you will not miss a chance earning them… do I sound old as well now?!
Well, in any case, happy sports day – have fun, kids!