I don’t really remember too much about my own Primary School Sport’s Days.
I do recall, however, getting matched with the class athletic superstar for the three legged race one year.
I’m sure the teacher did it for her own amusement you know.
I was blessed with neither coordination, nor sporting prowess. Think of a mini Miranda Hart in black cycling shorts and a fluorescent scrunchie.
The speed was not mine, but at least I looked good.
All in all I had a complete lack of sporting ambition. I think you either have it or you don’t, that competitive edge. Not to mention the fitness and acumen. Those were in short supply too.
In Grammar school I looked upon it with dread. Utter dread. I hung my head and tried to look as insignificant as possible when they picked a class member for each event.
The Running saw me trail along woefully in last place, hyperventilating.
Truth be told, I was knackered just putting my trainers on.
The Long Jump is, I’m almost certain, what inspired my lifelong hatred of sandy beaches.
The sand. The beetles in the sand. The beetles, in the sand, in your shoes…shorts…eyes…
The High Jump – Good Lord, like some sort of death-defying stunt scene.
‘Just throw yourself head first, backwards, over this wooden pole’, they said.
Even my eleven-year-old self found this all a bit suss.
Discus and Javelin – basically just hurtling crazy-dangerous stuff, closing your eyes and hoping that your crap aim killed no one in the process. There were near-misses, let me tell you.
Sport’s Day. Shudder.
My own little darlings are now making their first foray into this world of competition.
I’m not too sure how to prepare them for it.
There are the Tiger mums and dads, no doubt, that have their children doing laps of the garden before school. Press ups before bath time. Time trials at tea.
The full on family cheering squad on the sidelines. The extra-long photographic lenses to capture the split-second finish. A casual disregard of the ‘it’s the taking part…’ mantra.
They say it, of course, because that’s what you do.
Really what they mean though is ‘WIN, DAMN YOU, WIN!’
Because a first in the ‘Beanbag on Your Head’ Race will always lead to success in life.
I love to watch them on Sport’s Day. It’s like a time-hop to twenty years ago. Up on the athletics field, as their fifteen year old selves stretched and limbered before the big race.
They jostle nervously from foot to foot, find a place at the front of the spectator area, cameras poised…
Live and let live I say.
In my time-hop I was mentally counting how many trees I’d have to pass before the finish line. My personal best relied on whether I made it to the Oak tree without collapsing.
So, I choose not to be mortified when my little man comes last in every race. Because, y’know, he is the very best at being last. Last with a huge smile on his face – and there’s true skill in that.
Or when my girl is bumped off her Space Hopper by the competition. Then, I’ll cheer even louder, because we all need picked up when our faces hit the dirt.
And when eggs fall off spoons, and they do one more rotation of the Hula Hoop than is strictly necessary, I will clap and smile and ‘thumbs up’. Because, my goodness, they are amazing.
And at this moment they feel it too.
There’ll be time enough for over-analysing and fretting and worry in the years to come.
So, it’s taken me thirty years, but I guess I do see the value in Sport’s Day now.
It really isn’t the winning that counts at all. Or a medal on your chest.
It’s simply feeling that, whether it be in success, or losing with utter, utter joy, that you’ve done enough to make someone very proud.
Very proud indeed.
** Photo credit – the very kind Ian Kelly, whose telescopic camera lens I was most appreciative of! 😉 **