It’s the taking part that counts as competition gets the sack from school sports days

A piece published on the website of Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them), the political party of which I’m the chairman, in September 2018:

The feminisation of the education system has been a predictable disaster. A piece by Nicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent, in last Friday’s Times. Emphases ours:

From the three-legged race to the 100m sprint, generations of children — not to mention their parents — have used school sports day to show off their athletic prowess. Now such traditions appear to be falling out of favour as head teachers seek to focus more on the taking part and less on the winning.

Government figures show a sharp fall in the proportion of young children taking part in a competitive sports day last summer. A survey published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport yesterday revealed that 62.4 per cent of children aged five to ten had taken part in organised sport competitions at school in 2016. This fell to 55.6 per cent last year.

Education experts suggested that schools were ditching competitions to prevent children being divided into winners and losers. [J4MB: So they won’t build resilience in the face of competition, but will later suffer when they inevitably encounter it. Yes, that makes sense.] They also warned that sports days had been cancelled in some schools because of funding cuts.

A spokesman for the charity Youth Sport Trust said it was concerning to see a decline in competitive school sports days. “With children increasingly struggling with their mental health, and levels of obesity on the increase, it has never been more important to get young people active and taking part in competitive sport,” he said.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that schools were moving away from traditional sports days to let more children participate.

A leading figure in education policy, who did not want to be named, said that sports day could be an additional victim of funding cuts, with schools losing administrative staff who might organise the event, or unable to pay to transport the whole school to playing fields if they were some distance away. He said: “It might be that the edges are starting to fray.”

The figures also showed a large decline in children aged 10 to 15 playing sport at least once a month. Boys’ participation fell from 96 per cent to 91.5 per cent.

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