Dreaded Sports Day – and the film of How I Live Now

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 17th July 2012

The one thing I don’t miss from my children’s schooldays is the dreaded sports day. It was almost always one of the worst days of the year. At one school the event was competitive in every sense – from the parents’ picnics to the 100 metre sprint. The same children won everything year after year while the less sporty boys and girls were consigned to a far corner of the athletics track doing supposedly “fun” things like throwing hoops and hopping, skipping and jumping. My exuberant son didn’t think they were fun at all.

At his secondary school, I’m glad to say, the whole thing was far more relaxed. Everyone took part in three events, there were no picnics and In between races, the children wandered around in the sunshine. Everyone got a Zoom ice lolly for their efforts and instead of feeling like an abject failure by the end of the afternoon my son was on top of the world.

Some critics sneer at the “all shall have prizes” approach of some schools – but I reckon that when you’re only 11 sports day should be wall-to-wall fun.

Mind you, the most competitive participants at the sports days I went to were the parents. My daughter’s first school, a tiny primary in the wilds of North Yorkshire, always held a mothers’ race.

A lovely mum who was incredibly laid-back the rest of the year was so determined to win that as soon as the whistle went she developed a competitive instinct Paula Radcliffe would be proud of. One year she came a cropper when she tripped halfway down the school field, tore a ligament and had to be carted off in an ambulance. The children – from reception right through to year 6 – were utterly gripped. It was the most dramatic finish to a sports day they’d ever seen.

PS. I’m thrilled to hear that one of my favourite books, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, is being filmed. It’s being directed by Kevin Macdonald (of The Last King of Scotland fame) and stars Saoirse Ronan (above) as Daisy, the teenage New Yorker sent to England to stay with her cousins. It’s due out in 2013 and I’m certain it will be a must-see…

6 comments so far

  • Don’t worry, Emma. You are not the only one. I hate sports day, and so do my kids. At least it’s only once a year though.

  • I hated sports day at school and managed to avoid it in primary some years as my best friend had hay fever so I kept her company in the classroom. My daughter is not much better I’m afraid. This year she was so happy as she had cut her foot a couple of days before so couldn’t take part!

  • I am not a lover of sports day either. I am a teacher and along with a few other staff members we have finally got the emphasis placed on a more fun day for the younger children, with no competitive activities. Much more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Hi Lisa. It’s such a shame that sports days are often so joyless. I’m sure they could be done better at lots of schools. I’m relieved I don’t have to go to them any more! I hope your daughter’s foot is better now.

  • That sounds so much better, Mum of All Trades. Fun seems so much more important than competition, especially at primary school. My son loathed sports day but now at 17 and choosing the sports he enjoys, he’s turned out to be quite sporty.

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