Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Comptitive sport for children is still frowned upon

I have been known to argue that competitive sport has a limited party to play in tackling the problem of child obesity. But there is no doubt that it is great fun for the children who are good at it.

Ministers now make speeches in favour of competition, but it is clear that anti-competitive attitudes are still deeply rooted in many parts of the education system. Mike Selvey described his daughter's experience of the Milton Keynes Primary Schools Athletics Championships in today's Guardian:

At the close of her 800m race, Hannah was leading so far in front that the runner in second place had not yet rounded the crest of the bend and she was within 100m or so of lapping the back marker.

This race was a qualifier, one of two to decide the 800m finalists for the Milton Keynes Primary Schools Athletics Championships. At the start of the following week, her sports teacher rather sheepishly took Hannah to one side and told her that, unfortunately, she had not qualified for the final. Hannah was stunned, absolutely flattened. She had won her heat at a puffless canter.

This was not an isolated anomaly. Her friend won a very competitive 200m race, but she too failed to qualify, as did two of the four relay teams entered by the school, despite a clean sweep. Throwers conceded places to those who qualified behind them. Runners saw stragglers' names in the finals list.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Ugh. That is ridiculous. Those who have talent should be encouraged. Those who don't shouldn't be pandered to (its a hard lesson we all have to learn).
When it comes to qualifying for an event how can you justify sending someone who is not as good?

There are times when you might not put the best forward for something. Say there's a place on a weekend course for a sport, you might not send the best at that sport, you would want to send the child who will benefit most from it - which may well be someone who'll benefit socially or in their confidence, or someone who's parents don't push them so much.