Sports Day. I Just don’t Find Forced Competition Fun.

Education / Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Ok, I know this title will have readers turning their nose up before we even begin. I know this is an unpopular opinion, as each person I’ve had this conversation with has disagreed wholeheartedly. The thing is though, I just don’t like sports day. In fact, I hate it. No, it’s not because I’m rubbish at sport, I’m actually pretty good. It’s also not because I’m unfit, I’m really not. I’m not a stranger to exercise, I think it’s a very important part of life and I do think sports should be celebrated in schools. I just can’t stand the forced competition of sports day.

I know, I know. I’m a total party pooper. I’m the parent that’s spoiling the fun for her kids. Just bare with me a minute though and picture this; a sports hall packed full of of three and 4 years olds, each bringing with them about 3 generations of ‘support’. The immediate race for a school bench on the front row, parents giving each other the side eye and immediately disliking the person who got there first. A room full of knackered toddlers and tired out teachers ready to make them compete against against each other, for the amusement of the parents who are probably still falling out over seats. If you think this sounds fun, you’re a better person than me.


Life isn’t always about competition –

I’m told that sports day is so important because it sets the bar for life. Children need to learn how to thrive and how to come out on top. They also need to learn disappointment and the fact that life can be a bit rubbish sometimes. I do agree that they need to experience all of this, I just don’t believe that a room full of screaming adults is the best place to start dishing out life lessons.

The thing that bothered me most about sports day at my daughter’s school, was the sheer lack of self-awareness displayed by the majority of adults in the room. It went from being ‘fun’, to being forced competition in a matter of seconds. Parents were literally shouting at their children to run faster and amazingly, were unable to hide their disappointment when they lost. Oh but if they won, well you’ve never seen a celebration like it. In my opinion, setting a very poor example for their impressionable offspring.

Like I said, I do think sports are a good thing and I think there are ways to enjoy them together. I just can’t grasp why, in 2018, we still force our children to compete against each other from such a tender age. I don’t see how it benefits them and frankly I think it brings out the worst in many parents.

The trouble is, that the kids seem to love sports day. They absolutely lap it up and leave with huge smiles across their faces. Mine included. So it would seem that I need to settle myself in for the next decade of forced competition sports days. It appears that I’m among the minority.



22 Replies to “Sports Day. I Just don’t Find Forced Competition Fun.”

  1. Funny you are writing about sports here. My husband and I just signed up our 3 and 4 year olds in a martial arts class for little kids. While we were there, one of my children kept switching her legs back and forth, I told her to lead with the “other leg” and then one of the instructors asked that we not say anything to the kids because they want them to listen to instructions coming from the instructor and not the parent so that the child stays focused on what they are learning. So I sat back and watched my girls try to follow along and the patience of the instructor and how she worked with them. I’m a mom that always wants to encourage my kids and I can be a bit too protective as well so it was strange for me to stand back and watch someone else instruct them on what to do. As parents, sometimes we just need to take a step back, let the kids learn, have fun, and sort it out for themselves. If it isn’t life-threatening or going to harm them then we don’t need to step in all the time. #Blogstravaganza

  2. Oh! I am right there with you! I’m dreading the first one to come! I hated it as a kid. Being stared at and forced to play things I didn’t want to, compete against kids I would never play with. It was in no way fun to me!
    Preach on!

  3. I am totally with you. We were invited to nursery sports day this afternoon but we made our excuses and didn’t bother. It is not because I don’t like sport, I absolutely do. It is more because Cygnet doesn’t really like instruction, probably wouldn’t join in and would insist on doing his own thing anyway. Maybe things will change, I am sure he will get more into it, I doubt I will though. Pen x #blogstravaganza

  4. We haven’t had a sports day yet and I’m quite excited about the day I get to go. I do understand what your saying, as parents we need to set an example and if we’re bickering over chairs, well it’s not a good start. There’s no need for it. I hope when I go I just cheer for my children and help them understand that it was OK not to win, and help them learn they need to practise. I have seen some videos on social media which make me cringe as to how competitive parents can get. #Blogstravaganza

    1. Ah I’m sure you will be fine, there have been so many comments with really positive sports day experiences! X

  5. I loved sports day at my first primary school but hated it at the middle school I moved to and it was even worse at high school. I think if it’s done right it can be fun for the kids. My good memories aren’t of winning or losing but of having fun in the sunshine with my friends and getting weak orange squash, yuk, and an ice cream, yum afterwards. My bad memories are of being bored, embarrassed and basically becoming a target for all the bullies and not because I wasn’t winning, I was forced to to the sprint and relay as they knew I would win and I did (lord knows how, couldn’t do it now). Did sports day teach me anything, that kids are mean and running in the blazing heat sucks, well I knew that anyway. I don’t blame you for hating it, not at all. #blogstravaganza

  6. Urgh I hated sports day as a kid and have the same opinion as you. I get that it can be good to understand the world is a competitive place – and I do have a competitive streak – just not in front of everyone in the heat of summer jumping hurdles with my short legs. My kids enjoyed it more than me – and I think it hasn’t done them any harm – but I still die a bit inside every time I remember taking part. xx

  7. Oh Zoe I really feel for you, I would hate this too. There’s just no need. Our preschool don’t do sports day at all, they just have a general end of year celebration. For my older boys, they do have a sports day but they ‘compete’ in teams of mixed age children from Reception through to Year 6. I have never seen a sports day like it but they all just enjoy and encourage each other. They move between different activities, from running buckets of water between two tubs, to hula-hoop, to bouncing bean bags. The parents mingle among them, no sense of winners or losers, and we all have a big picnic together at lunch time, much like a party really. I love it and so do the children. But if it was competitive and parents got involved with that side? Firstly they would be told off by the Head, but secondly I’m not sure I would be able to stomach it. I hope that perhaps over time your daughter’s school sports day will evolve, or the competitive parents will move along or rethink their behaviour. In the meantime, I’m glad that she enjoyed herself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts lovely #Blogstravaganza host 🙂 xx

    1. I was really struggling to stomach it, I just wanted to leave! I love the sound of your sports day and I would love it if ours evolved into something as inclusive xx

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