Sports Day Blues

You tell us why you hated running at school

Posted: 18 August 2006
by Jane Hoskyn

When you remember school sports day, do you smile wistfully or shudder in horror?

If you're in the shudder camp, I can relate. The annual 100-metre sprint was the only running we did at school, and I came last every single year. Not just last, but last by several metres, still plodding desperately while everyone else enjoyed congratulatory hugs and back-slaps.

A couple of decades later my morning run is the highlight of my day, and I'm looking planning to my next marathon with relish. Those who knew me at school can hardly believe it, because that 100-metre dash with no warm up was enough to label me forever as an embarrassment to running. I might easily have gone the rest of my life engaged in no exercise at all, because I'd been led to believe that I was terrible at it – even though those torturous Sports Day sprints bore little resemblance to what I now regard as running.

Seems I'm not the only adult runner who hated the sport as a child. At the time of writing, just under half the RW readers responding to today's poll say they 'loathed' running at school, compared with a mere 18 per cent who 'loved' it. To have your say and check the latest results, see the poll box on the left-hand side of the forum page.

Cross-country = Abuse of kids?

Not all those readers who hated running at school will have suffered experiences similar to mine. Some of you will have been put off by the terrible PE kit, physical shyness – or muddy cross-country runs at the hands of bullying teachers.

A new tongue-in-cheek citizenship guide for teenagers highlights the potential horrors of cross-country which, it says, may compromise their human rights. Today's Sun newspaper is among the tabloids who've leapt upon the guide, choosing to ignore that it was written jokingly and holding it up as an example of PC gone mad. (Stifles a yawn.)

But could there be something in what the guide says? Bullying is certainly an affront to kids' human rights, so if a long cross-country run is imposed upon an unfit, unprepared child by a bullying PE teacher, that child isn't being treated fairly – or safely. What's worse, that child could be put off sport and fitness for life, just as my own 100-metre ordeal convinced me that I "couldn't run" until I discovered by accident in my 30s that I wasn't so bad at it after all.

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Discuss this article

cross country running is not in itself , child abuse. However, I think of the methods used by my teachers to get/compel someone to do it was child abuse. It is daft, if the distinction is not made.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:40

Hoose, that was 90 years ago, though.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:41

Is this a joke? I only thought it was child abuse when one the teachers was marshalling in the woods, and............

Whatever next?
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:41

Seems that anything that makes the precious little dears do something they don't want/can't be arsed to do is qualified as human rights abuse.

No wonder so many youngsters are unfit and fat. And semi-delinquent.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:43

Oh dear oh dear.
Personally if any of the sports at my school was abuse it was hockey. That was one dangerous bl@@dy activity.
Why are people always making excuses for children not to participate in sport? Do they not know the risks of childhood obesity etc etc.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:46

in the Metro it said, the people who did the report said it had been mentioned as light relief, rather than a serious point.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:48

The abuse comes in when if like me you hated cross country or any other kind of running so much that you would injure yourself deliberately so you didn't have to do it!

My old school friends even now cannot believe that I enjoy running knowing what I used to do to avoid it!
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:48

Abuse can be Physical or emotional. So a cross country run enforced on the participants could be abuse.. but by the same standards making a child learn anything could be classed as abuse. i.e. if they don't like maths or don't have an aptitude for it.. learning maths may cause them undue stress therefore teaching that child maths= child abuse.

Lots of children don’t enjoy aspects of their schooling and as it is a large portion of their lives they are bound to get upset when they come across something they don’t like. However calling it child abuse and erasing it is not a feasible way forward.

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:49

FFS. We all have to do things that we don't want to do.

Personally, I found that Maths classes were emotionally scarring and I'm thinking of sueing.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:51

Me to.. And I was good at math.. but my maths teacher who was getting on in years used to wear a very short mini skirt.. Scary shit! I may never get over it..
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:53

Surely if you "tell" them to do anything it is an order and could be construed as bullying (if the order is opposed to the child's wishes). I think that these people are suggesting that we should be "requesting" that children carry out various tasks, including cross country.

IMHO, the little bu55ers should be made to run the cross country in the middle of winter, and not be allowed back until they complete the course under a certain time. Then they'd learn something about acieving targets, motivation and consequences of failure - all things that happen here on the real world.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:55

What's wrong with him wearing a mini skirt? Was it outside the school's dress codes?
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 11:55

Cross country running at school, I hated it,
Standing up and being ordered to sing on my own, I hated it
but that was school, you did it because the teacher told you to, thats life or it was anyway.
The teacher who told me that he liked the way my t*ts were getting nice and big, now that was abuse!
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:02

LOL - quality!
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:04

Abuse? No more than any other class. And there were always ways out of cross country. My way was to play a musical instrument, knowing that the weekly clarinet lessons clashed with PE. Result.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:06


Yer thats pretty much on the money.. We need to explain to these kids that life is pain.. you just kinda get used to it.. But at the same time.. tell them what abuse really is! I mean lets not muddy the waters.. Make it clear whats appropriate and whats not!
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:06

Erm reality check...

Its a story in the Sun ??

And you lot believe it ??

Spedding I can accept - hes a journo - and they'll believe just about anything - but the rest of you - well I'm suprised....
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:23

So did double decker buses not really land on the Moon? (Sunday Sport circa 1993).

Well f*** me backwards.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:26

Good point fell.. But its believable because its possible. We live in a PC mad society.. also if you don’t trust the sun.. to be honest I don’t blame you..

the independent?

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:29

LOL - nice one Samm.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:32

That's just shocking - Rob Spedding reads the SUN?!

Possibly, just possibly, it was meant as a joke?

I know I would have hated to do cross-country running when I was at school, and we thought that PE was torture, especially in the winter.

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:38

Rob Spedding reads is more shocking...
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:39

Speddo can read?
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:39

We use a lot of the books by CGP, and while I haven't seen the one in question, they are full of daft light hearted remarks that are never meant to be taken seriously.

I suspect this may be one of them.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:40

the people who did it said it was a joke...he said again...slightly louder.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:40

Wilkie - I think that is the second time you have come on in a week to defend Spedding's word as "a joke".

He really is like that, just accept it.

(wonders whether Rob still wants to be the meat in a love sandwich between John McCririck and Jackie Stallone?)
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:41

it's just not being reported, as much, becauyse it doesn't make good copy...though it was reported in the Metro...which is it's in the Daily Mail stable, I believe.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:42

Nice piece of research Samm, but the Independant report is actually reporting on The Sun's report!

Who said the age of quality journalism is dead!

I think I'm with FR on this one. But when my 14 year old son comes home anf=d reports that he is using that book then i will be in to complain faster than a teenager can run a cross country (So about a week then:-).

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:44

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:48

"But a Co-ordination Group Publications spokesman said the guide was "light-hearted" and intended to make citizenship subjects "accessible" to teenagers."

Get off your high horses people... this is a non-story designed to evoke moral outrage from the 'angry of Tunbridge Wells' brigade... media flim flam.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:49

Lol.. Well that image now takes over a few nightmares from the maths teachers sagy lips protruding from her mini skirt! Which is worse John McCririck or Jackie Stallone? damn now I can't stop thinking about it!!

Flash: It wasn't exactly research on the grounds that I had already read the story on BBC, and skimed it on the independant before this post was put up. I was just providing links to other sources..

Sorry Lucky.. will this Help.. The publishers said it was a joke

As for the publishers okay it was meant in a light hearted manner. But.. Kids are very up on their rights.. and its not that much of a leap to see them raising that as a reason not to do it. I think it was negligent of the publishers to provide ammunition like that; PE Teachers have a hard enough time as it is!

Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:52

Coming from a man on a horse.....

....How should we take that instruction?
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:52

Lol.. maybe its a low horse?
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:54

Not dissing your research Samm, more dissing the Indies research (unless you work for the Indie, in which my confusion alert level is about to be triggered)
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:54

<walksbackbrieflywithcrumpledMetro> "A spokesman for publisher Coordination Group Publications, one of the largest educational publishers in Britain, said the guide was trying to promote debate and the inclusion of cross-country was to be taken light-heartedly." <walksbackoffthread>.
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:55

...and if the little beggers don't want to run they shouldn't have to... In fact, I'll do it for them...
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:55

Oh god don't tell the little b@stards they don't have to run, the need the practice to outrun the police on those little quad bike thingys..

Flash.. the indie don't research anything.. Ive been checken it for local news while my youngest is holidaying there.. It has to be the worst "news" site going.. Possibly after the Sun!

I think Lucky may be trying to say something.. can't quite make it out over the backround noise of the forum
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:58

It wasn't so much the running itself that was the issue at our was the fact that cross country consisted of us being forced to wear tiny running knickers whilst running out of school grounds.

As a result we rebelled, went to the chippy mid run, then all crossed the line at the same time enabling no-one to come first, last or indeed in the middle. The PE teachers used to weep regularly!
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 12:59

I heard this on the radio yesterday and thought there might be a thread on it :-)

<<shudders at the memory of blue gym skirts and orandge and purple mottled thighs>>
Posted: 07/08/2006 at 13:00

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