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 THE WAY WE WERE

Sports days were a racing certainty

THE kids loved it. The parents turned out in droves. Even the teachers relaxed as they marched their young charges out onto the playing field.
And always (or so it seemed) the event was graced with good weather.
Whether you could run or not, it didn't matter. But taking part did. And that was what the annual primary school sports day was all about.
Go back to the Fifties and Sixties and remember those events in which you once took part.
Like, for instance, the egg and spoon race. There you were lined up with your classmates hand trembling as you clutched the spoon and watched the egg wobbling as the whistle went.
What the actual origins of this were are lost in the mists of time, but in those hard post- war times in the early to mid-Fifties wasting real eggs was just not on. The school had pot ones which were brought out once a year for sports day.
Remember also the three legged race, allegedly a test of co-operation between two partners as much as a contest involving how fast you could run while tied together.
A lot depended on your partner. Why was it that the small kids always finished up strapped to the biggest ones?
Then there was the good old favourite, the sack race.
Like the eggs the sacks were produced once a year and then stored away again.
Clutching the top of the sack you hopped your way towards the finish, usually filling down in the process while your classmates roared encouragement. All good harmless fun, but today more than like to be frowned for some health and safety reason.
Most primary school sports days did not let the parents get away scot-free. Hence the parents race, generally believed to be organised just to embarrass those mums and dads who dared volunteer.
The fun races, though, were just part of an afternoon of competition which saw youngsters running their hearts out for small prizes - often few sweets.
All good fun and happily remembered by those who took part.
How sad, therefore, that so many schools have now removed the annual sports day from their calendars on the grounds that they are too competitive and could damage the self esteem of the youngsters taking part.
Looking back did they do you any harm?


Written by The Editor - 11/08/2007 20:09:31

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