Sports Day Ethics

It is School Sports Day season and Facebook, due to my membership of several children’s disabiliy groups, is full of two themes relating to sports day : firstly, there are distraught parents unable to comfort their disappointed children, because they cannot compete and the event accentuates their disability and difference. Secondly , there are plentiful videos of  races, at mainstream schools,  where the children join hands and hold back, to allow the child with special needs to win the race, with much celebration at the end. When I saw the first video I thought it was spontaneous and sweet, showing the care that classmates had for their disadvantaged peer. But as I have seen more, I have become less comfortable with it , as they look more contrived and I am questioning who is the instigator, is it the children caring or an adult intervening?

Now perhaps if I were more competitive myself, or if Joshua were more concerned about winning races, I would feel more comfortable with it, but what happened to ‘ its not the winning, but the taking part’ outlook? Neither of us expect his victory at Sports Day, without some form of cheating, and I am happy with that. For me it is about some fun outside with his peers and no more, and I am not convinced that Joshua understands what Sports Day is all about anyway and he is certainly not driven to achieve first, second or even third place. It is our school sports day next Wednesday and I plan to attend, to cheer my son on, provided the sun makes an appearance.  But I will be going not just to watch Joshua compete, but also to cheer on his classmates, as there will be several who are ambitious to succeed. It is usually a well-attended school event and so it is good to see lots of other parents there, supporting their children and sharing the day.

As a child, sports day was agony for me, being neither talented nor motivated and so I suspect that I am carrying that outlook on into my adulthood and Joshua may have inherited his sportiness, sadly, from his mother rather than his Dad! Of all the many things that Joshua has achieved in his life that I am proud of, his athletic prowess is not one of them.

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