Does Sport in School encourage our kids to fail?

As a Personal Trainer most people assume that Ive always been the sporty type, well nothing could be further from the truth.

As one of 5 children, two girls and three boys, non of us were particularly sporty,  my dad did little to encourage any of us to get involved in sport, he never watched football (soccer) or rugby.   He did watch a lot of other things like darts and snooker, which made me think that sport was quite boring.

So school starts, and the first thing we learn in PE is football (soccer).  I remember it well.  So many kids with their Leicester Strips and nice boots with “screw in studs” .  I had a pair of plimsols (we didn’t have the money for fancy boots) and,  it was a Leicester city top, but it was my older brothers and about 12 years old (1963) so I really felt out of it before I started.   So we play, and I was rubbish.  I have no foot,  hand and eye co-ordination, I still struggle to catch things.  So from that day forward, I believe I am rubbish at sport.  I hated football, rounders, I don’t think I ever hit a pitch, and so thats how my life went. So now I knew your rubbish at sport and all the other kids knew I was rubbish at sport, and so the humiliation continues.

So what happens is every week at PE?   Well firstly we have the team pick!  We all know how that goes, the two best players are the Captains, same two pretty much every week, and they are probably the ones in the school football teams.   So they take turns to pick their teams, and pretty much most weeks I was in the last two.   And even when you know your going to be in the last few picked,  sometimes theres a kid who you think is worse or maybe more unpopular than you are, and they get picked before you, your morale just hits the floor to its lowest ebb.   So now not only are you rubbish at sport,  you have the worst kit, you are also the most unpopular kid in the class.  And then theres the ball you miss, so your even more unpopular.  I actually remember hoping that no one would actually pass me the ball,  often they wouldn’t,  at least then I knew I couldn’t mess it up.   And now you know why some kids hate sport.

So now this lack of faith in your own sporting ability , you decide that you aren’t very good at any sport, and fail at everything.

I actually did get into cycling later, in my mid teens, and was very good at it, and I did get the opportunity to show how good we were at it during my senior years.  The teacher gave us a route, and off we went.   Not only was I always the first one back, but I was back considerably before anyone else.  Unfortunately the teacher never really gave me any props for this, I think it was assumed that I somehow cheated as I don’t think even the teachers could believe I was any good at anything.

So whats the solution?

Encourage kids to enjoy sports by putting them in groups of similar abilities.   No one wants to loose every time. Teachers should be spending time with the less able kids teaching the basics before throwing them into a game that they are going to fail at.  Everyone is good at something , find out what it is and encourage them to do it.

Obesity in children is on the rise, we need to encourage our kids to move more, and get out and enjoy physical activity.   It starts at home, but Schools and P.E. teachers need to be doing more.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  – Albert Einstein


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