This week the boys’ school joined in with lots of other local schools for the annual athletics competition. Hosted at the local secondary school children spent many hours on Tuesday evening competing against each other. I have been attending this event for many years as my oldest son was also very sporty – and have never actually known our school to win (or another school my second-born went to). There was confusion in my house because the only reason I knew anything about the event taking place was because it was mentioned on Facebook and by the ladies from Running Club. In the end it turns out that our 9 year old had been picked – but only in a relay race, and our youngest son not at all.
The both tried not to be too bothered by this but the attitudes towards children’s athletic fitness in school concerns me. See our 9 year old is already telling himself that he is not a good runner unless it is over long distances (which is mainly because of Parkrun and reinforcing the message that he can do it), and our 8 year old that he isn’t very good at all. I feel this message is being strengthened by the school only picking “the best” for their team. This of course then carries on to secondary school – especially in Rugby where you have the A, B and C teams. I appreciate that they want the best chances of winning but what is it doing to the long-term health of children?
I do not know if things are the same now but I always dreaded P.E. I knew I would always be picked last when we were split into two teams. Telling myself I was better at Maths and English and not really a sporty person. Obviously I was just no good at it. I think that carried on with me (although I was rather sporty at secondary school). Maybe if the schools had picked me (and the teachers picking the teams rather than the kids) – or just generally told all children they were capable then it could make such a difference. I feel that the ones who are picked are going to be the ones to be the best because they are the ones getting the opportunities and practising.
On the other hand I can see that those who are shining at sport should get the opportunity to represent their school – especially if it is what they are good at. What do you think – should children be encouraged more by being picked for their long-term health?