Sports Day for the non-sporty kids...is this fair?

(85 Posts)
SadAboutTheBoy Mon 16-Jun-14 17:29:34

DS age 11 - one of youngest in his year - in first year of Senior School, so first Sports Day at the school.
He's quite a quiet, sensitive little boy, and hasn't found Senior School easy.

He's not good at sport (not as big/strong as the other kids in his year), and knows it. He is quite good at techy stuff and music etc.

So he comes home today and says that everyone has signed up for things for Sports Day, but that he isn't doing anything, and has been told he is to be a 'Reporter' - and that he has to write up a news report of what happens on the day.

I sensed that he was a bit upset and there was more to this, so probed a bit, and found out the following:

- the lists were being drawn up and co-ordinated by 6th formers in the same house (not teachers)
- they asked for volunteers for each event.
- DS said he volunteered for '7 or 8' different events, but on each occasion someone from his year group shouted him down and said ' No, don't put [DS] down for that, he's crap/ no, let me do that one, I'm much better/ oh God, we'll never win if you let him do that' and so on... sad

There were 3 or 4 of them (out of about 40 in his House) who were told there was 'nothing left' for them, and that they could be 'reporters'.
They are meant to write up a report after the day and hand it in the next day. The next day is the last day of term,so I don't believe this report will be used/read.

I am really angry about this. DS is trying to shrug it off, but I can tell he was upset.
I don't care that he isn't doing an event (although I thought that was the point of Sports Day?) but I do think this has been handled incredibly insensitively.

Do I mention it to his teacher/ Head of year/Head of Sport, or just let it lie?
I did think I might just tell them I'm taking him out of school that day and go and do something fun instead!

lljkk Mon 16-Jun-14 18:16:48

I think I would say something to someone ... but I'm kind of split about this. He doesn't like sports anyway. He could have stood up for himself & insisted on doing the activities in spite of them insisting they'd do better. Of course the kid who thinks he's best wants to do the event & the kids who want their house to win (because they are competing in houses) will shout out the names of who they think is best.

It sounds like there aren't enough spaces for everyone in the house to get to do something, which seems odd.

SadAboutTheBoy Mon 16-Jun-14 18:28:27

He's not the sort of kid who would be able to stand up for himself against the alpha male sporty loud-mouths. We've already had some issues about some of this crowd bullying and picking on him.
It's just difficult because he is physically and emotionally immature relative to most of his peers.
No doubt if some teachers had been handling it then they would have intervened, but 6th formers don't have the skills etc.

The 'reporter' thing is just so wrong IMO though. Just a fob off. Why should he spend the last night of term doing a piece of homework which will never be looked at hmm.

I'm just so sad and disappointed in the school. These are the sorts of experiences which demolish self-esteem.

lljkk Mon 16-Jun-14 18:34:58

Sounds like you have a lot to talk to the school about.

SadAboutTheBoy Mon 16-Jun-14 18:41:48

lljkk - we've already had a discussion about the bullying and nastiness, which is why this is so disappointing - they promised they'd keep an eye on things for him.

I don't resent the competitive nature of Sports Day for those that are a) good and b) into it, but it doesn't mean that you should trample over a small child along the way.

It is a compulsory event apparently, therefore they should at least try to accommodate every pupil in some sort of event even if it's an egg and spoon race!

Bunbaker Mon 16-Jun-14 18:41:57

"He could have stood up for himself & insisted on doing the activities in spite of them insisting they'd do better."

You clearly haven't had to deal with children who lack self confidence. DD wouldn't have had the confidence to stand up for herself in those circumstances. Have you no empathy or understanding?

I think the school have handled this badly. I don't even know if they do a sports day at DD's school as she has no interest in sport. If they do it will only be with the pupils who actively want to take part.

sunshinecity17 Mon 16-Jun-14 18:59:48

That's how it is at secondary.There is usually only one or two from each house in each event, so not everyone gets a go.I woyuyld be very surprised if there were only 3 or 4 not taking part.

coppertop Mon 16-Jun-14 19:05:09

I don't think it's fair that they have to do written work just because they weren't chosen for an event.

Could the reporters just take photos instead and e-mail them to the appropriate person?

I would mention it to the form teacher. I don't think it will make a difference this year but it might save other children from going through the same thing next time.

meditrina Mon 16-Jun-14 19:09:24

You need to ask your DS what he wants. It can be deeply embarrassing to have parents intervene and if he sees it that way, it would be completely counterproductive. He needs your support and a feeling you are on his side, and that does not necessarily mean, once at secondary, wading in as you would coat primary.

But if he does want you to, then talk to whichever teacher organised the sports day. Point out the effect on your DD of the choices made by other boys and ask how the teachers ensure that there is no unfairness. And that he sees report writing is a chore and has burdened him.

There is the possibility (which I hope is the case) that report writing is an honour.

HercShipwright Mon 16-Jun-14 19:15:53

My kids would regard that as a RESULT.

SadAboutTheBoy Mon 16-Jun-14 19:53:55

Thanks - always useful to get some different perspectives.

Just to fill in a few points:

- it's an independent school, and a) not very big, and b) makes a big thing about 'every child is important/ has a role'
- Sunshine - it really IS just 3 or 4 (out of 35/40) who don't have an event to take part in - not just 3 or 4 representing the house.

Definitely take the point about not wading in, like at Primary, but then again the school is always big on 'give us feedback' so am just wondering if, and how, to do this!

Phaedra11 Mon 16-Jun-14 20:24:04

I would contact the school.

From what you say, I wouldn't be surprised if the outcome here was not what the staff intended. It's possible that the reporter role was intended for the non-sporty types who didn't actually want to volunteer/participate, but unfortunately using older pupils rather than experienced staff to organise participants meant that things went awry, with your child missing out.

Takver Mon 16-Jun-14 20:36:46

If it were dd's school, I'd tactfully contact her form teacher, providing of course your ds is happy with that.

I agree with Phaedra, it sounds very much like the reporter role was invented as an 'out' for those who didn't want to take part. My DD would sign up for that option in an instant, but clearly your DS (and good on him) wanted to participate despite knowing that he isn't the most sporty/fastest etc. I'd expect any school to be delighted that pupils are wanting to take part, & while it's possibly too late for this year, if nothing else they could speak to the organising sixth formers about a better approach next year.

MillyMollyMama Mon 16-Jun-14 20:50:59

In my DDs very sporty independent school, the Sports captains in each House sorted out the teams. It was part of their leadership role. The children in sporty independent schools want to win, win, win, not be inclusive. This is what independent schools, deep down, are all about. You will not change anything because this is perfectly normal for ths type of school.

Most kids who hate sport, would be embarrassed by being useless in front of all the parents and the whole school, are better off doing something else. No-one is ever going to remember that he did not compete. Would you like to see him humiliated? Surely it is better that this does not happen? Should a school make children sing in public who cannot hold a note? Or maybe the children least able to act should get a good part in the school play? You would not expect this and the children would be mortified. The same applies to sport. Be supportive in what he can do and leave the sports day to others. In our school the non sporty ones kept the results up to date and were runners to and from the announcer. These children would have hated competing but no-one thought any less of them. Their skills just lay elsewhere and this is what you should explain to your DS.

sweetieaddict Mon 16-Jun-14 21:03:31

Contact the school and explain that you're not happy that your son is not taking part in sports day like every other boy.

Explain that giving him a 'tokenistic' reporter role is patronising and insulting. Why should he 'report' on what place the other boys come?
He should be out there WITH him, not consigned to the sidelines.

Tell them he won't be writing a report and they need to sign him up for something like everyone else.

Appalling for morale and inclusion and they're charging you for this kind of pastoral care! Do hope it's a one off OP.

Not being involved for sports day for boys means a lot more than you would think.....trust me...

flipchart Mon 16-Jun-14 21:10:04

So he doesn't like sport but he likes techy things.
He's upset because he is not doing sport but has an opportunity to do techy things?
And everyone is really angry or sad?

To be honest in his postion I would be made up. Got out of doing sports but can mess round with a digital camera and a computer to produce something in 10 mins.

Sounds perfect.

flipchart Mon 16-Jun-14 21:12:22

Not being involved for sports day for boys means a lot more than you would think.....*trust me*

Not necessary - mine did every thing they could to avoid it, they loathed sports days, cross country days and the like. I had them down as just not sports people. All that changed once one left school. Cant keep him away from sport now!

BravePotato Mon 16-Jun-14 21:19:35

I would take your cue from him. It's a fine balance at this age!

FWIW, my DS is a geeky techy guy who is not very extroverted (at all!) and he is 11, and he is now ..... tadaaaaa....Sports Captain.

He was disappointed with last year Sportsday (not selected to do much at all) and with the general competitiveness taking precedence over good sportsmanship.

So I did not wade in, but he decided to write a letter himself, to the head of Y6, applying for the post of Sports Captain. He wrote all about respect, fairness and good sportsmanship (apparently, I never saw the letter).

LOL, he is the most unlikely captain ever. But I am really pleased he dealt with the sports issue himself.

He was not sad about never being selected for football or rugby matches, but some days he thought it sucked, and he thought it would be nice to be included sometimes. I think that is how your son feels too.

So ask your DS what he wants, and support him.

creamteas Mon 16-Jun-14 21:25:48

At my DCs school, the sporty kids do all the events as the House cup is so important to them.

The kids not involved get to go home early instead.

Everyone regards this as a win-win situation grin.

bopoityboo3 Mon 16-Jun-14 21:25:50

Was it the teacher or the 6th formers who told him that he'd have to do this? If 6th form he can ignore it. I know my 6th formers would suggest something like this thinking they are being kind/ helpful by giving the ones who aren't involved a role in the day.

If a teacher then I agree with checking if it's okay with him and then talk to the school.

sweetieaddict Mon 16-Jun-14 21:28:16

No, it's not about sports day - it's about the school saying you're not good/strong enough to be involved in one of the biggest end of term events that everyone is involved in and comes to (parents etc.) So because we don't regard you highly enough, off you go and stand on the sidelines with three others that also aren't 'physically' up to it either.

The school is painfully guilty of blatant bullying and discrimination, with examples like this, no wonder poor OP's son is being bullied and picked on.

My kids aren't particularly sporty - I have no problem with a sports day for kids who are - some of those (though not trying to be stereotyping here!) may be the ones that struggle academically so this is their time to shine.

However, I don't think it was handled at all well. I can understand why it went the way it did though.

What they do in my sons' school is that they put their names down for 3 events and then they run trials at PE and then the winners get to compete at sports day itself - seems fair enough, they all get a chance to try.

ThrowAChickenInTheAir Mon 16-Jun-14 21:29:26

My dd would have been happy to do it. PE at school has at times been a miserable experience for her.

I think PE needs in some (many perhaps?) schools to take a good hard look at whatever it is they think they're promoting. Being given an 'out' like this is a solution of sorts I suppose and one I think some would be relieved to seize upon. But yes it's a weak solution.

Because it doesn't tackle the fact that too often PE turns into an exercise in humiliation for those that aren't stars at it. A little more emphasis on a sporting attitude all round would be a start. It's got to be the only subject at school where those that don't shine get to be jeered at and called crap while deaf ears abound from those who should be jumping all over such comments. It makes me fumeangry.

SadAboutTheBoy Mon 16-Jun-14 21:58:20

Milly MollyMama - I know the sorts of schools you are talking about, but this isn't one of them. In fact we chose it precisely because it WASN'T one of those sorts of schools (of which there are plenty arouind here!).
Inclusiveness and 'having a go' (especially in Lower School) is part of its ethos, which is why I'm disappointed.
To use your examples, yes - every child in the First Form is taking part in the end of term production, and yes, all are expected to sing. Of course the solos are given to ones who CAN sing/act.

There are equivalents in the Sports Day - there are highly competitive 50m/200m,1500m races/hurdles/high jump/ long jump etc but there are also less competitive rounders matches/ cricket etc.

It wasn't DS's choice to opt out and be a reporter - he volunteered for things, but was told there was nothing 'left' for him. Some kids apparently signed up for 5 or 6 different things, which I imagine will be impossible to complete in the time allowed.
If only the best 25%/50% of the year group were competing, then that would be fine, but singling out just 10% to not take part is wrong I think.

Soontobe - yes, running heats or trials would be much fairer - at least DS could then choose to try or not, rather than having the decision made for him by a bunch of loud-mouthed pea brains!

Hakluyt Mon 16-Jun-14 22:05:47

I thought one of the main reasons people chose private schools was lots of competitive sport and none of this PC "all shall have prizes" attitude?

But I would just say to your ds to wander about the other "rabbits" and have a nice day. Find a tree to lie under, chat, read a book, eat sweets (which you will provide) and don't even think about writing the report.

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