Sports Day – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

My boy running his heart out!
Today I am relaxing in the knowledge that sports day is over for another year.  This one event in the school calendar which seems to evoke a marmite-type response from us parents: some love it and others loathe it.  Over the years I have sadly become a little cynical, easing slowly into the ‘loathing’ camp but as I like to try and find positives in everything (if at all possible), I will share the highlights of our day….

The Good

  • my children were in the same team and instead of witnessing their usual hatred for one another, I got to see some rare moments of cameraderie and maybe even love…
  • I was able to support The Tween at her final Sports Day before leaving for Secondary School
  • I watched my son being cheered on by his team mates, as he ran his little heart out
  • the sun was shining so my white pins got some colour (a kind of off beige)
  • I was able to catch up with fellow mums and friends over lunch, thus fulfilling my daily need for companionship!

The Bad

  • by midday it was too hot, so much so that my shoulders got burnt
  • the PTA had run out of cookies by 11am
  • the ice pops hadn’t frozen properly so we had to witness their forlorn little faces on hearing the sad news :(
  • the whole day started with enthusiasm at 9am and came to an exhausted end at 3pm – way too long!

The Ugly

Where was the flipping competition????  Yes, our school is one of ‘those‘ schools – the ones that opt out of any competition on sports day, choosing instead to praise ‘team spirit’.  There is an overall winning team (the one with the most points) and medals for the team which showed the best sportsmanship (cheering on the opposing team) but no accolade for the best runner/fastest skipper/highest jumper.  No recognition for individual success.
I will never understand why schools publicly honour and praise children for their academic achievements but choose not to give children recognition for excelling in other areas, in particular sport.  Some of these children may not be high-achievers academically, the place where they ‘shine’ is on the sports field.  Yes, yes, I know that excessive competition can encourage jealousy and the ugliness of comparison, but a little bit of competition is real….teaches children how to rejoice in their fellow man/woman’s successes.  How will they ever learn if we shelter them from all of this as children?
Do you think that schools are obsessed with being ‘fair’?  Has your school got it right? 
Are you a lover or a loather of sports day?!

My two loving each other for a change!

23 Comments on Sports Day – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

  1. Kim Carberry
    July 10, 2013 at 11:10 am (4 years ago)

    Ohh there was definitely competition in my girls sports day…lol The winners would get ‘house points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place…It’s all about the house points as the last day week of term the winning house have a treat day…Junk food, a bouncy castle & movies!!
    Looks like yours had a good sports day despite the melted Ice Pops!

  2. sentwivlove
    July 10, 2013 at 11:33 am (4 years ago)

    No mummy’s race, lucky you, lol xxx

  3. Louise Fairweather
    July 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh my that day is way too long! Big man made his into his own competition – his team came third. From what I saw that translates to – there were stickers for teams who came first and second and then everyone else came third! You are right, some of the winners would be children that struggle academically and they should be allowed to shine.

  4. Coombe Mill
    July 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm (4 years ago)

    a long day indeed, I love our sports day, just a couple of hours of traditional competitive sports and plenty of recognition, as my sporty one is not academic it is a delight to see him excel and be rewarded for it.

  5. Michelle Ordever
    July 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm (4 years ago)

    My son’s primary didn’t have the 1st, 2nd, 3rd place thing either…sport is all about competition! It’s good to teach kids about the value of being a winner, or a loser…

    Thank God sports days are over for me! I don’t need to go to the high school ones 😛

  6. SarahMummy
    July 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm (4 years ago)

    That is a very long day! Although I think ours will be as long as we have juniors in the morning and infants in the afternoon. I think sports day should be competitive. Yes, some kids aren’t good at sport, but some aren’t clever or good at music or acting. The kids who are good at sport should have their chance to shine. Our school have individual races and every kid gets points – 4 for 1st down to 1 for 4th. The overall winner is the team which has the most points at the end. I will still be cheering my kids on and hoping they win! I will also be giving it my all in the mums’ race – I’m due to come first this year?

  7. Older Mum
    July 11, 2013 at 8:50 am (4 years ago)

    That’s a very, very long sports day – you must have all been wiped out by the end of it! I’m not into the idea of competition in sports for very young children as you want to get them all involved, but I think it’s fine when they get older. Alas, the world is based on competition…. X.

  8. sarah
    July 11, 2013 at 8:25 am (4 years ago)

    wow! a whole day! ours goes on to 12 and that is too long! We were one of those schools that did non-competitive stuff but this year they allowed the juniors to do running races at the end of the relay type games, i think everyone thought it was a success. :)

  9. gina caro
    July 12, 2013 at 8:17 am (4 years ago)

    How ridiculous is that!!! Yet another example of the world going mad. All of the things they keep stopping or taking away to avoid upsetting people are things that our children should be learning. Guess what kids you aren’t going to excel at everything in life, there will be somethings that you are good at and some things that you aren’t, THAT’S LIFE. If we are not careful then we are going to create a generation of ‘bubble babies’. Sorry about the rant lol These things just really wind me up. Great post x

  10. Jaime Oliver
    July 12, 2013 at 9:26 am (4 years ago)

    i am a lover of sports days however this year i have had no children in a sports day :-( i do however agree that there should be some competition! x

  11. Amanda
    July 12, 2013 at 10:16 am (4 years ago)

    That is a ridiculously long sports day!
    Totally agree, it’s ludicrous to encourage and rewards the academics and do nothing for those who excel at sports.
    There are winners and losers in everything, why schools try to avoid that I don’t know!

  12. Lorraine (Gin & Cornflakes)
    July 12, 2013 at 11:46 am (4 years ago)

    Popping over from #PoCoLo and I cannot believe that there is no competition! Never did me any harm – nor my friends. You must have been shattered by the end! At least time in the sun :)

  13. Mummy Barrow
    July 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm (4 years ago)

    urrrgghhhh hated sports day. Hated it.

    And now they make a big event for parents to come along to at my daughter’s school but what with that, speech day, son’s speech day at his (different) school, it si impossible.

    So i am afraid Sports Day gets binned by me.

  14. Nell Heshram
    July 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m all for competition, so long as it doesn’t spill over into bullying…agree that competition’s not necessary for the very little, but bigger ones DO need to have their achievements valued.

    Sounds as though you all took part in a marathon – what a long day!

  15. Mummy Plum
    July 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm (4 years ago)

    I think even for small children the idea of some competition is good – (gently administered) it teaches them about winning and losing – and they start to learn about the emotions they feel in these situations, which I think is useful, even from an early age. Tempered with the message that the most important thing is about taking part/ having a go I see nothing wrong with a bit of competition.

    Pip has just had his first sports day. I loved watching him in the fancy dress race :0) Most of the others were half way down the field by the time he’d got his stuff on – was he bothered? Not one bit!

  16. Tammy Chrzan
    July 13, 2013 at 4:48 am (4 years ago)

    I really enjoyed this post.
    I agree with you, that a little bit of competition is real and it’s good…
    We are meant to prepare our children for the “real world” and I think schools in the UK and the USA alike are so worried about offending some one person that they sugar coat everything. There is good in every child and every child has a strength, those should always be recognized!
    I’m so blessed to have found your blog!

    July 13, 2013 at 7:31 am (4 years ago)

    I agree — competition can be healthy. It’s also a good lesson for life: sometimes you lose even when you try your hardest but it can still be fun. When I was growing up there were ribbons for the winners in each competition and that really did make kids feel proud, even with some of the “sports” which were less…um…traditional. Like the jump-rope race and the one where you had to race in teams while holding a ball between your knees. My friend Korena and I were the best at the 3-legged race and practiced for a week beforehand during recess. Surely there’s a lesson in that as well.

  18. Xandi | The Mummy Scripts
    July 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm (4 years ago)

    Yes, yes, I agree! Why bother have a sports day if there is no competition – seems like a bit of a contradiction to me. Little D’s school had a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all the races and those who didn’t place in those didn’t get a medal. Everyone was fine with it – this is what happens in the real world and I don’t think kids should be sheltered from it. Maybe that’s harsh? I don’t know, but at least it’s real.
    ps – crazy long sports day! Ours was just 2 hours thankfully x

  19. Amy Ransom
    July 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm (4 years ago)

    ‘I’m’ yet to start school but am very confused by this ‘non-competitive’ sports day trend. I think it’s perfectly healthy for children to want to win – it’s innate surely? We haven’t taught Beaver to strive to be the best at anything yet I hear her and her friends talking about it. Survival of the fittest and all that… it’s nature isn’t it! Great post, Suzanne x

  20. Tori Wel
    July 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm (4 years ago)

    I totally agree with you Suzanne. Firstly that is a ridiculous length of sports day – crazy!! I also agree with the stupid ‘being fair’ deal that all schools have. Grace has her first at her new school this week, I’ll be interested to see what they do. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo xx

  21. Mama Macfennell
    July 14, 2013 at 8:36 am (4 years ago)

    I loathe sports days myself but not because I don’t enjoy watching the various races, it’s more the complete ineptitude of schools in organising anything. How is it that you can have a perfectly good teacher who organises their classroom and teaching just fine but manages epic fail with sorting out a well-run sports day! Your whole day torturous event and half frozen ice pops a perfect example. I’m with you on the competition thing – individual recognition is important in all areas. Helen

  22. Sara Murray
    July 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm (4 years ago)

    That was a very long day! I agree with you that there should be an element of competition – my son is not sporty and would not do well under competitive conditions, and I would be feel awful for him, but he’s also a terrible loser and this is a skill he needs to learn! The real world is competitive and you don’t always win. He excels at other things, and is praised academically. Others who excel in sports should be given the same opportunity. I think for younger children a balance is needed, with fun team games/events combined with solo competitive races – something for everyone. Popping over from #PoCoLo x

    July 31, 2013 at 8:36 am (4 years ago)

    Definitely a marathon and not a sprint!

    My son’s school is also one which emphasies academics and participation over competition (although, to be fair, there were prizes for sporting achievement given out at the end-of-year prize-giving assembly), which frustrates me as well. Not just because it brings out the annoyed Competitive Dad in me, but for all the same reasons you state. Competition is a reality in the grown-up world, it makes us strive to do better and it teaches us to deal with the inevitable defeats and setbacks better.

    Funnily enough, I wrote something along similar lines after our sports day (well, morning, okay, hour). Hope you don’t mind if I post a link below:


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