Should schools only pick the best children for Sport?

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 Should schools only pick the best children for Sport?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?

5 thoughts on “Should schools only pick the best children for Sport?”

  1. I personally think that schools – and sports clubs – absolutely should pick the best to take part in sports. This encourages children to work harder to get selected, and more importantly it teaches them to deal with failure. I think that coping with failure and disappointment is one of the most important things that children learn from sport. That said, there should also be sports that all children participate in, and I also agree that the teachers should pick the teams rather than the children. Otherwise children who aren’t socially popular will also feel that they are bad at sports which probably isn’t the case.

  2. It’s a tough one! But for competitive sport, I think they should pick the kids who are best at sport. That way, the kids can feel good about themselves (because they may be kids who don’t shine in other areas) and the school can feel proud of its achievement – a feeling which can be shared by everyone at the school. But they should encourage all kids to join in during PE lessons and after school clubs and take each sport on its merit e.g. a kid who is good at rugby may not necessarily be good at tennis and maybe a kid who is terrible at hockey is actually really good at tennis!
    This is coming from the point of view of a parent of two sporty kids and one non-sporty kid. Interestingly, my most sporty child wasn’t recognised as being sporty until he was 10 because the teachers were blinded by the fact that he was really clever and of course really clever kids can’t possibly be good at sport! (They totally can!)

  3. I am sure I have blogged about this too as I think that schools should be encouraging all kids to do sport. In a time when we struggle with kids who are obese and addicted to consoles, why turn them off sport at such a young age? I get the competition side of things and I understand that as they go to high school, kids are picked because the school wants to win, but what about the other kids?

  4. For me, competition is essential and I believe children do need to learn and be inspired by working hard to reach a level to get picked to represent the school. But then I was sporty at school so did get picked.

    But children also need to be encouraged so sport is seen as for everyone. This should be done at the school, and there should be events that everyone can take part in, whether it’s their own sports day, encouraging sports clubs and providing a range of ‘sports’ that includes minor sports or those more active rather than competitive sports like dance.

    N is middle of the road when it comes to sport. He enjoys and is ok at tennis (he plays twice a week at school and club lessons), chooses to do cross country club at lunch times (nutter!), and also does other sports through the year in PE lessons. At sports day his year of boys is too large for running 1 race, so they have 2. They’re split supposedly randomly, but unfortunately for N, that split continues through the school and he’s in the same race as the 4 fastest boys in the year, and another child who’s really competitive. N isn’t. But he still enjoys sports day even being proud he came 5th in most races because he had an expectation of where he was going to come from all the practising they did beforehand. If he was in the other race, he’d potentially have got on the podium for several races.

    He is lucky though, that their school is small, so any cross school event it’s likely that all the children get to go rather than only being able to take a few.

  5. Interesting to see that, in addition to all this, sports participation is falling for kids. And not just for violent sports like football and rugby. The sports arena will look very different in a few decades if this trend continues.


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