Kim Ayres’ hilarious memories of sports days and other miseries at school made me think.
I’ve never had rose tinted specs about my own school days. In general, I found the whole thing mildly unpleasant from start to finish, but only mildly. It’s impossible to pinpoint why.
The kids were fine, and so were the teachers, but the whole thing was somehow less than the sum of its parts. But the Sports Day at primary was a favourite.
I now realise that the parents must have suffered much more than the kids. We had a ball. Our primary school had the best part of 400 pupils so it was very much a production line. You did your run, then your sack, or egg and spoon, or wheelbarrow or three-legged race, then the rest of the afternoon was your own. We all loved it.
The three-legged race was good. If you got into a rhythm, there was no stopping you, but if your partner fell, or started laughing, you were buggered. Same with the sack race, long after the smallest boy had won it by putting his feet in the corners and just sprinting, the rest of us would still be trying to get up having been toppled in a domino chain reaction. The egg and spoon always caused debate among ourselves, as to whether a big spoon or snug close fitting one was best, but once the race was underway, I don’t think any of us gave a flying fig, it was just much better than sitting doing long division, or fractions.
The plain running was always won by the biggest and probably not the bonniest kids (in primary the gap between biggest and smallest is wide) and the novelty races were a complete lottery.
Anyway at the end of the track there was a trestle table with a couple of teachers taking notes and handing out the badges. All cheats were disqualified, which must have mortified the parents, but never bothered us at all. Kids although terribly cruel (allegedly), also have a well developed sense of justice and a 10 minute attention span, and the next event was probably about to start, so it was off to the ice cream van to discuss Jack McLean’s fantastic nosebleed.
All the parents were there of course, but we never mixed. It was two distinct groups. They were there only for money, or handy andys, or to hold your spoon till you were ready for it. There was none of that bonding crap. I think any parent shouting specific encouragement, like “Come on Jennifer, you can do it Jenny” would have stuck out like a sore thumb. You see, back then, SUVs hadn’t been invented.
Of course if I had kids, and they were cheated out of a badge at Sports Day by that smarmy little……………….