Reintroducing physical exercise into the curriculum

Hate to agree with iDave about something but one place his draconian approach would be welcome is in physical training and competitive sport in schools, particularly in team games.

No one’s talking draconian in the way it’s implemented – kids can enjoy games as long as there is some sort of success allowed for each but that’s no reason to eliminate competitive games for fear that individual success is not going to happen. It’s always been the way that if you’re ordinary at individual sport, then you do team sport and contribute to the team’s success. And a friendly gamesmaster is a break from your class teacher.

There is a principle and one day, everyone from libertarians to lefties might finally get it – a child is not a fully grown human being. The main issue is the parents, many of whom are failing their kids by swallowing the leftist mantra about competition and then there is the type of teacher they have in primary now.

Quite apart from the exposure of children to sex and drugs via the teachers’ oh-so-tolerant attitude to wrong things [for that age] and the feeling that they’re so modern and relevant in doing all this, there is the culture of sloth in schools and namby-pamby lip service to sport. The notion that kids do not have regular physical exercise – one or two P.E sessions of 45 minutes and one games session of an hour and a half, along with one swimming a week, is jawdropping, given the overwhelming evidence in studies as to the effect of such brain-expanding exercise and competitive and team spirit in games.

If independent schools dominate in sport and I’m not sure they do but if they do – then such a curriculum is largely responsible. Key factors for kids:

1. Diet
2. Exercise
3. Intellectual challenge

On the first, that Jamie Oliver’s attempt at healthy eating in schools should receive such mockery and that it’s even been turned into some sort of libertarian issue is amazing. I should have thought everyone would be demanding healthy eating for kids – again, it’s the parents primarily at fault. Sure my parents had trouble getting me to eat my greens and other things they tried I also flatly refused but they didn’t give up, saying, “Oh dear, what can we do?”

They kept pegging away because parents used to know better than kids. They accepted my flat refusals, worked on the waverings and if the food was good and I liked it, indulged me on that. It was never even an issue about physical exercise. My mum expected I’d be chafing at the bit to get out with my mates on our bicycles – she’d have been amazed if I’d wanted to stay home in my room. In fact, it would have ruined the rest she richly deserved and her own work she had to do.

Sure kids differ in temperament and body shape and there was the old culture of the detested fascistic sportsmaster – no one’s arguing for a return to that type and I’d like to see that type eliminated – but there is no good reason for kids not to do exercise in the curriculum, accounting for individual differences and setting different targets. It’s a fundamental of learning capacity for a start to have at least some regular exercise.

The greatest benefit is the culture which emerges and this has flow-ons in what a government can and cannot try on. A nation of fit, well-fed people is considerably more difficult to lead into serfdom than a slothful nation of whingers. I don’t believe iDave wants that at all – a fit, healthy, free-thinking and intelligent nation – his EU masters certainly don’t.

And in the light of yesterday’s little dust-up, it doesn’t make me any less libertarian to say a kid is a parent’s responsibility first and foremost and that the parent rules, a little less by degrees, as the kid reaches the next level – that’s how it’s always been in healthy societies.

Libertarianism is a concept for grown adults, fully-fledged people and to treat children as such is so under the spell of the narrative as to be quite dangerous.

53 comments for “Reintroducing physical exercise into the curriculum

  1. August 9, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Have to disagree here. Basic eduction – numeracy and literacy are essential life skills and we cannot get by readily without them. We can, however, manage perfectly well without team sports.

    My life was made a misery at school with compulsory games lessons. It did me no good whatsoever. Indeed, if anything it fuelled the rebel in me. I refused to take part and spent most of the lesson avoiding the ball – stepping aside to let it pass if it came my way. I have despised all team games ever since.

    Sport is something for the personal sphere and has no place on any state enforced educational curriculum. Forcing it only produces the kind of deep rooted hatred I now have for football. My love of archery, cycling and judo had nothing to do with school sports because, guess what, schools were insufficiently imaginative to accept that some of us excelled at stuff that didn’t involve chasing a ball around a muddy field and didn’t need to be part of a team to succeed.

    As for Jamie Oliver – the man is an authoritarian twat. It is not up to him to dictate what others eat. You are right; it is a parental responsibility, not the states’s and not Jamie Bloody Oliver’s.

    And without wishing to go all Godwin:

    The greatest benefit is the culture which emerges and this has flow-ons in what a government can and cannot try on. A nation of fit, well-fed people is considerably more difficult to lead into serfdom than a slothful nation of whingers.

    Someone else had an idea about this and produced propaganda footage that we can still see today – lots of nubile Aryans doing their exercises – and he wasn’t planning on a nation of free thinkers, was he? The very thought sends a chill down my spine. As I said, sport, exercise, diet and such are matters for the personal sphere and nowhere else.


    Just in case anyone thinks I am suggesting a ban, I’m not. if schools wish to offer sport on a voluntary basis, I’m fully in favour. The crucial word being the “v” one.

    • Mudplugger
      August 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Agree LR. Compulsory sport at school is a turn-off to many – in fact it turns off potential interest in all manner of sports.

      I never got the point of compulsory rugby or cross-country runs, but did enjoy the summer cricket season. Yet I was coerced into spending two-thirds of the year on those hated activities, time which could have been more productively and enjoyably spent in the library. Same goes for gym – what benefit was to be gained by dangling off wall-bars or leaping over a box when my prime objective was to avoid both ?

      Some kids have the ‘sport-gene’ and schools should accommodate it, but equally other kids don’t and should never be forced into that pointless activity. That few minutes of movement a week is never going to affect their health positively, just like school meals (a mere 10% of their annual meal-intake) are never going to impact on their obesity-levels. Get real, Nanny.

      Later, I became an active participant in competitive motor-sport – how about that on the school curriuculum ? Oh no, forgot, it’s not ‘green’ enough. Can’t have folk doing sports they might enjoy, can we ?

      • August 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

        Well, I do still take a trip every so often to the IOMTT. Now, real road racing, how’s that for a sport, eh? Not only not green, but highly risky, too.

        • Mudplugger
          August 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

          Of course, Earnest Hemingway got it right when he posited that there are only three true sports in the world – Mountaineering, Bull-fighting and Motor-Racing – sports where your own death is an ever-present risk.

          The rest are just games, pastimes and circus-acts.

    • August 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

      We can, however, manage perfectly well without team sports.

      Wrong on two counts:

      1. Exercise has everything to do with literacy and numeracy because of its effect on the brain – that’s not even in dispute in learning theory, in combination with diet;

      2. Team sports create a social effect, a cultural effect which is missing right now.

      There is a third effect further down the track and that is the political effect mentioned in the post. It’s far harder to oppress a nation with a sense of esprit-de-corps and working for one another as a nation than it is a podgy, me-first culture which is given over to sloth – just look around you today.

      The post said that the draconian should be avoided – it doesn’t have to be as you remember it.

      • August 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

        I have managed perfectly well and so have plenty of others, so I am not wrong. Far from it. You cannot produce team spirit by enforcing it and you don’t need sports to bring it about. I am perfectly capable of working in and managing teams without any help from team sports.

        The post said that the draconian should be avoided – it doesn’t have to be as you remember it.

        That is precisely what will happen.

        • August 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

          by enforcing it

          But who is talking about enforcing anything?

          • August 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

            Hate to agree with iDave about something but one place his draconian approach would be welcome is in physical training and competitive sport in schools, particularly in team games.

  2. August 9, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I also hated team sports. In 1970’s Wales the search was on for the next Gareth Edwards on the rugby field to the exclusion of everything else. Those of us without teen moustaches were just tackling dummies, that is, if we were dumb enough to get the ball.

    Ditto PE. If you are 12 and can’t climb a rope no amount of vocal bullying and humiliation by a sadistic tacher will help. In fact it is utterly counter-productive.

    As ever, it comes down to parents. I take the 3-year old boy swiming a few times a week, also football and gym classes along with unstructured stuff at an adventure playground (your turn on the zip slide dad ~ ah!). The state can only ever do a half-arsed job of this if there is compulsion.

    • August 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

      The state can only ever do a half-arsed job of this if there is compulsion.

      That good?

    • August 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Ditto PE. If you are 12 and can’t climb a rope no amount of vocal bullying and humiliation by a sadistic tacher will help. In fact it is utterly counter-productive.

      See, there it goes again – remembering the extremes but I wasn’t referring to that, nor to the State imposing something. It should just be back on the curriculum, that’s all and the iDave reference was only because he paid lip service to it yesterday in the light of the Olympics.

      The principle has been around and crying out for a long time.

      In fact, I’m amazed why anyone would be advocating against healthiness. Do you really prefer everyone as a couch potato eating crisps, glued to the box? We’re talking kids here, not you yourselves. What you do is another thing.

      • August 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

        No one is advocating against healthiness – that’s a strawman argument. We are – rightly – advocating that it is none of the state’s business to get involved. Sport should be a matter of personal preference and pleasure. Any return to enforced games will inevitably bring about the kind of extreme misery we are recounting.

      • August 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

        “In fact, I’m amazed why anyone would be advocating against healthiness”

        Please see the third paragraph of my original reply.

  3. Jim
    August 9, 2012 at 9:23 am

    This ‘sports in schools’ thing is a ten minute wonder for the politicians because the Olympics is on. The reality is that kids don’t like sports any more. A friend of mine is Head of PE at a local comp. He struggles to get enough kids interested to form school teams. He often picks players and they refuse to play, or don’t turn up for the match. They just aren’t interested. And this goes for all sports, football included. In my day you’d have killed to get into the school team. It was a great sign that you were ‘someone’. Now its just ‘meh, can’t be arsed’.

    Unless sports are going to be made compulsory, including out of school hours sessions, and inter school matches, the whole ‘Olympic legacy’ thing is a joke.

  4. August 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

    “And a friendly gamesmaster is a break from your class teacher.”

    A beastly one, on the other hand, has the potential to cause hours of misery every week for years on end.

    Having suffered for eight years at the hands of a particularly unpleasant specimen of the type, I may, of course be biased. However, I do think that many games staff, having themselves always excelled at sport, have little understanding of – or sympathy with – the intense dislike some children feel for team games.

    While the star players bask in glory, those less adequate find themselves on the receiving end of shouted orders and criticism not only from the teacher but from other pupils – and, during matches, other children’s parents as well; something that would be completely unacceptable in an academic context.

    Under the circumstances, even if the regime is not ‘draconian’, it’s not surprising that those who know they are only there to make up the numbers might feel less than enthusiastic about the whole business.

    A moment of supreme irony occurred recently, when the same games teacher who forced my reluctant and unhappy offspring to play matches on a regular basis announced that it was ‘a real shame’ that pupils who didn’t like drama were obliged to be in the school end-of-year production – “if they don’t want to do it, they should be given a choice”.

    • August 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

      A beastly one, on the other hand, has the potential to cause hours of misery every week for years on end.

      Indeed. My experience was very similar to SAoT’s. Team sports only work if you like team sports. If you don’t, they are a misery. Putting people through misery does not create an esprit de corps, it creates resentment.

    • August 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Well, on that logic, let’s make everything optional for kids, even attending school. And that pesky English and Maths – they can opt out if it gets a bit difficult. Where do you draw the line?

      On the other hand, Mick Hulme at Spiked:

      As suggested on spiked on the eve of London 2012, when the cult of inclusivity was at its peak, ‘What remains great about the Olympics, however, is that once the sport begins it sweeps all of that cultural crap away. The essence of top-level sport remains about winning, losing, breaking records and being the best, not equality or fairness. You do not have to be one of those ridiculous social Darwinists who mix up sport and society to understand that the spectacle of human struggle is inspiring, not belittling, to the rest of us. So it is good to see the true ‘Olympic spirit’ being joyously celebrated again, if only for a few days.

      Even now, however, the ‘cultural crap’ is never far from the surface. Thus, the authorities want to turn the outstanding achievements of UK competitors into another instrument of their petty, miserabilist agenda. They declare that the triumphs we have all watched must be used to ‘inspire a generation’ – to, err, follow the government’s ‘healthy living’ guidelines and combat child obesity. Fortunately, millions of people – including us of a slighter older ‘generation’ – will ignore all that instrumentalism and simply be inspired by the Olympics for its own sake, because the Games can take us out of our everyday lives for a moment, or even a couple of weeks.

      • August 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

        That’s a strawman too. I covered that in my first comment. Some things are essential life skills. Team games are most definitely not.

        • August 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

          Rubbish. They are just as essential as any other area of the curriculum – balance is what it’s all about. I’m with the Ancient Greeks in this respect, not some modern PC notion about selecting only the bits one likes.

          • August 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

            You are simply factually wrong on this one. There are plenty of us who eschewed school sports and have grown into well rounded, fit and healthy individuals who give lie to your assertion.

            You need basic literacy and numeracy to succeed in the employment market. You do not need team sports and never have. Not once have I ever needed anything from those miserable experiences on the football field as an adult in the real world. Not once.

  5. Greg Tingey
    August 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

    It is nw 52 years since I was last bullied out onto a rain-swept football field to be bullied, or thrust around a cross-cuntry run.

    There IS one “sport” which should be complusory, until a basic standard is reached – swimming.
    Because it is a survival skill.

    Meanwhile, at age 66, I think I’m in the top 1% of fitness for my age-cohort, but that is nothing at all to do with the organised fascism, bullying amd moronic thuggery of “Team games”

    Like Longrider, my determination to: “Can’t, shan’t, won’t and what’s more you can stick it”, started here ….

    Higham:”Team sports create a social effect, a cultural effect which is missing right now.”
    Following the jolly team captain’s orders
    Valuing muscle over brain

    Oh, and you talk of extremes.
    I’m afraid this is the norm.
    Whgen I was teaching, the head of p.e. was very unusal – he was actually considerate.
    The others though were real bastards – n fact, with the exception of him, I’ve never met one who wasn’t a bastard.

    Now bloody grow up!

    • August 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Higham:”Team sports create a social effect, a cultural effect which is missing right now.” Yes GROUPTHINK Now bloody grow up!

      My goodness, you guys must have had a terrible time at school. Perhaps because I had a good time and enjoyed games I take the different point of view that sport can be good. 😉

      • August 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

        My goodness, you guys must have had a terrible time at school.

        You noticed?

        I am clearly not the only one who hated and despised those two sessions of games every week. They taught me nothing (beyond rebellion) and I couldn’t wait to be free of them. They do not, therefore, create a social effect unless one is a volunteer and does it for the pleasure. Hence my core argument here – it is no business of the state or anyone else other than parents.

        I take the different point of view that sport can be good.

        Indeed. Providing it is voluntary.

        The solution therefore, is a market in schooling so that parents can make suitable choices for their offspring.

        • August 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

          Indeed. Providing it is voluntary. The solution therefore, is a market in schooling so that parents can make suitable choices for their offspring.

          We agree! We agree! Hallelujah. 🙂

        • The Nameless Libertarian
          August 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

          “They taught me nothing (beyond rebellion)…”

          Same here. In fact my tacit war on the notion of me being forced by the teachers to play a game like rugby (“you want the stupid pointy ball? Take it, pal. I’ll give it to you. Look, here it is. No need to run at me and drag me to the ground for it”) was one of the first indicators that the authority figures were not neccessarily right purely by dint of their authority position. Something that can be far more productively and enjoyably taught, I would say, through basic philosophy.

          • August 9, 2012 at 11:29 am

            Well, yes. it is arguable that school sports taught me a lifelong contempt for authority. So, yeah, maybe it was a good thing in a perverse sort of way. However, I doubt that is what its proponents really mean…

          • August 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

            It wasn’t only rebellion I learned (actually, I got quite good at it too, which didn’t improve matters); my games teacher was the first adult whose behaviour towards me was was openly vindictive and malicious. It may well have been good preparation for later life, but at the age of ten, it was something of a shock to the system.

            The same teacher once told my parents that it was the duty of games staff to “redress the balance in school by taking the brightest children down a peg or two in front of the others” – a mission clearly undertaken with considerable zeal.

            And, James, before you say they aren’t like that any more, another games teacher said virtually the same thing in my hearing less than a year ago.

            • Greg Tingey
              August 10, 2012 at 8:37 am

              Absolutely spot on.
              Not all games teachers are natural fascists, but that’s the way to bet …..

  6. The Nameless Libertarian
    August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I was a scholar at a major public school (the one where Rugby was founded, to make its identity obvious to all) where they were very hot on team sports and general exercise. Unfortunately, I was not. And through spirited passive resistance, by the time I turned 16 I was no longer expected to do any sports (as my housemaster said at the time “I don’t care whether you do any games or not but please, if you’re not going to do it, do so in a way that does not create extra work for me”.) And that refusal to do team sports has in no way affected my competitiveness, my mental/learning faculties or my ability to get on with others. Indeed, I actually used the time proactively to expand my abilities – through doing a fourth A-level and learning to drive. Had I been forced to do games against my will then I would not have achieved either of those things (which have both proven to be very useful in later life).

    Sure, this is anecdotal evidence. But I’d be wary of putting team games on a par with the likes of Maths and English. Both of those are crucial to basic functioning in society (and I say that as someone who despised Maths at school). In my experience, team sports are not as crucial and for some, not important at all. And I’m living proof.

    • August 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

      There seems to be an awful lot of that anecdotal evidence cropping up here. James is on his own with this one, I think 😉

      • August 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

        I retire, defeated, tail between legs.


        Actually, just saw something truly bizarre. The high jumpers – women from all nations – were doing their jumps and a petty official came over and gathered them all together in some sort of group meeting – these are international athletes speaking different languages.

        Then, with a clipboard, he proceeded to lecture them in English. Many were bewildered and one lady tried pointing out to him her name on a second sheet on his clipboard.

        His response was to ask, again in English: “Do you want to pass or jump on this next jump?” They were just looking at him so his response was to repeat it in English. They just looked at one another.

        Some woman official came over and he said, “All right, you all go with her and listen to her.” It was on the Beeb broadcast just now. So they all go with her and she says exactly the same thing. Now they all know the rule about passing or jumping on the height they want – it’s part of their sport to indicate that but he wanted it all entered on the clipboard and regulated.

        I was just watching now, jaw dropped.


        It just got more bizarre:

        They asked him if they all must pass now. He kept at them: “I just want to know if you want to pass or jump.”

        The American girls said: “So what you’re saying is that we all must either pass together or jump together?”

        He said:, clipboard being wielded: “I just want to know if you’ll pass or jump.”

        “Well, if we pass, can we stay over there?”


        “Can we recall that pass?”

        “No, once you pass, you pass.”

        “But that’s bizarre,” said the German, “we always have the choice whether to jump or not.”

        “Look,” he said, a sympathetic smile on his face. “I just want to write down here whether you’re passing or jumping.”

        Post coming.

        • August 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

          I retire, defeated, tail between legs.

          And let that be a lesson to you. 😈

  7. David A. Evans
    August 9, 2012 at 11:36 am

    As one who absolutely hated PE, I have to say it was a good thing for me.

    I was very high on the academic ladder in school so PE taught me quite forcefully that there were things I was going to lose at.


    • August 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Oh, I learned that long before I got to school.

    • wiggiatlarge
      August 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      I have read patiently all the comments here and both sides have a point, but the age when all those who suffered PE and team games was like that, I have no idea how it is now.
      At my secondary school we had two PE teachers who both played rugby for good London sides and really weren’t interested in anything else, I was not interested in rugby or our two other national sports although I enjoy football as a spectator, I was a racing cyclist on the track and as a junior rider , then up to eighteen a good one at fifteen I reached the semi – finals of the national junior sprint, the last four in a UK final, I related any of this to anyone at school but a friend also a racing cyclist told some boys and it got out, I was totally ignored and sneered at by the PE teachers and made to take in rugby and the other sports playing in the unwanted positions, I was fortunate to be big enough to look after myself so that didn’t matter but the sports awards at the end of the year came along and I was deliberately bypassed and the award for best achievement went to a runner who was placed in a county under fifteens event, I was not even mentioned.
      The point of all that is sport can be a way of expressing oneself on several levels, it doesn’t work for all and forced can can result in resentment at the very least, for me it made no difference I was doing what I wanted to do in my own field, all it proved to me was that at that time those who taught ? sport were narrow minded nasty bastards who hated the fact a kid had achieved something they had not and that “other” sports didn’t count, the same treatment was meted out to a very good young rower whom I am still contact with after all these years, he made the mistake of belonging to a River Lea rowing club Crowland and not a Thames one, strange we are so good at both now.
      As to the academic pluses and minus’s I haven’t a clue.

      • Greg Tingey
        August 10, 2012 at 8:42 am

        Note, that Longrider, like you and I, were quite fit & active – just didn’t do team games.
        What the idiots at my (Grammar) scholl didn’t notice was, that I was cycling 4.5 miles a day, just to get to/from school!
        Revenge came in year-I VIth form.
        Trip to Lake District – my name was second on the list (some beat me to it) – I was approache by TWO masters, telling me my name had been put down as a joke – my reply – “No it wasn’t!”
        Even better, by the end of the week, only little, weedy, thin, fit, me was still standing.
        Even the super-athletic footie types flaked out at least ONE day of the 8.
        Me, I just kept plodding.
        Still amuses me!

  8. August 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Compulsory sport is not the answer. All that’s needed is allowing kids to exercise in what ever way they wish to.

    Let them run around. Let them play football. Let those that are into team sports arrange themselves so. And let those kids who don’t want to do sport find their own way of getting rid of that excess energy because given half a chance they will do. If not at school then at home. Even I as a nerdy youngster did a lot of cycling around on my own, but I hated school sports.

  9. August 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Everyone above is missing one essential point. You’ve all focussed on this compulsory thing and have obviously had universally bad experiences.

    I’m focussing on whether a child should ever have physical education in the first place, if it should be right off the curriculum, if the child should never at least experience it. It’s fine, as Wiggia says, for someone to decide it’s not for him and it’s a three-way thing between parents, child and school.

    But to deny a child the opportunity in the first place when physical wellbeing is so important even to the ability to learn, that is just strange, simply on the strength of our own bad experiences at school. Do you think that type of PE teacher would be tolerated today?

    • August 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      No one is suggesting denying opportunity. No, it should not be a part of any state mandated curriculum. If schools wish to include it as a part of their offering to parents, fine. And children, having tried it and decided that it is not for them should have the absolute right to opt out as it is not necessary for their well-being.

      iDave can and should butt out of it. It is none of the government’s business.

    • August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Might I suggest that, at least for some children, we’re all arguing about whether the stable door should be shut while the horse is galloping off into the distance?

      Britain’s high proportion of working mothers of under-5s means that a vast number of young children are shut up in a nursery for most of their waking hours five days a week – including school holidays – their only outside play confined to an area crowded with ‘safe’ and static outdoor toys, while weekends are taken up with housework and shopping.

      Add to that the fact that many children never walk to school, nursery, shops or the park, even if they have someone with leisure to take them there (and the inclination – JuliaM recently had a quote to the effect that it was ‘unpleasant’ for mothers to sit while their children play in the park in wet or cold weather).

      James is right about giving these children a chance to experience sport – though I don’t agree that regulation is the way to do it – but the starting point for many will be so low that expecting them to participate alongside those whose parents have played outdoor games with them through their early years is likely to be counter-productive.

      I think it’s highly likely that the vast majority of Team GB – whether privately-educated or not – had the benefit of plenty of physical activity in the crucial years before they reached school age.

    • Greg Tingey
      August 10, 2012 at 8:45 am


      Swimming is a vital survival skill.
      I deliberately resisted being taught, because it was complsory spurts.

      NOW, do you get the message?

      And, yes, PE teachers are still like that – you’ve only got to watch the Spurts-personalities on TV/radio/papers to realise that.
      Muscle-bound morons, at least 95% of them.
      Not counting actual fascist creeps like Coe.

  10. August 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Yes, bring it back. When I was at school the girls used to get a waiver if they whined about it being that time of the month. Well, going by the ads things have improved so much that they can even pole-vault now with no mishaps, all month long, plus they can keep PMT at bay with evening primrose oil, which no-one had ever heard of when I was a lad.

    It would do me good to think of them going through the same misery as I did – cross country running in the rain, being rugby-tackled by 20 stone psychopaths, crypto-homosexual games teachers leering at me in the showers, the lot – without a single excuse in the world for not joining in. Equality, so to speak, is a double-edged sword.

    • August 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      It would do me good to think of them going through the same misery as I did – cross country running in the rain, being rugby-tackled by 20 stone psychopaths, crypto-homosexual games teachers leering at me in the showers, the lot – without a single excuse in the world for not joining in. Equality, so to speak, is a double-edged sword.

      That, it must be said, is a purple piece of prose. LOL.

      • wiggiatlarge
        August 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

        Despite what I commented above I am in favor of PE being on the curriculum and swimming should be available for the reasons pointed out in an earlier reply, but this is were things take a turn for the ridiculous, and he would be PM the man really is a buffoon.

  11. Bemused
    August 10, 2012 at 7:10 am

    As someone who had “the sport gene” I can only add to this interesting debate that the last thing I wanted when playing was opposition who had no desire to be there or little ability to compete. I always wanted to play against better opponents. Being forced to make up the numbers will not do anybody any favours.

    • Greg Tingey
      August 10, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Ah, someone actually UNDERSTANDS!

      Give the man a susage-voucher …..

    • August 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Yes – nothing wrong with concepts of excellence and competition.

      • The Nameless Libertarian
        August 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

        Absolutely – nothing wrong with concepts of excellence and competition. And people should be made aware of those concepts when at school since they will become very aware of them when they enter (or attempt to enter) the work place (in particular, the idea of competition).

        From my perspective, though, team sports did not bring those notions to my attention as a kid. And the big problem was, if you pardon my French, that I couldn’t give a flying fuck about how well my team did because I thought that the games were, in general, completely pointless. Likewise a lot of the activities in PE are completely pointless from my perspective – I have managed to live my life quite happily to date without ever having to climb up a rope.

        Of course, I get that the point of all this is fitness as well as fostering concepts such as competition and excellence, but as so many others have pointed out there are plenty of exercises that are fundamentally good for fitness levels but also completely solitary. For example, I walk whenever possible (the 6 mile round trip into town is something I walk rather than drive/get public transport, for instance) and regular swimming. And I can see the point to both of those (make me healthier) whereas chasing a ball around a bit of grass does not have the same impact. Different strokes, I suppose.

        • August 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

          I wonder if we’re looking at two discrete type of humans here.

          I’ve long been of the opinion that we are divided into herd beasts and mavericks – if you’ll forgive the bovine analogy – largely because the existence of both means our species survived both predation and cold picking off the outliers and contagious disease wiping out those who chose to live in close proximity.

          Though I can appreciate sports that require individual achievement and I can see the appeal of, say, rowing in an eight, I have never seen any point to team games, with their petty rules, endless shouting and needlessly complicated ways of getting a ball of some sort from A to B.

          I suspect this is inbuilt, making us a natural target for the ire of games staff, who, since they must usually by definition have excelled at sport themselves, cannot understand any other attitude.

          (The one exception I know of was an unhappy ex-trampolinist and gymnastics coach who found herself working in a school where she was obliged to spend her days running round muddy hockey pitches in the rain blowing a whistle at girls twice her size.)

          My Ma-in-law, however, though an excellent woman in all other ways, is incapable of sitting on a beach for five minutes without trying to sort the family into teams for cricket or rounders or some other ghastly activity of the sort.

          Since both my sons have definitely inherited my maverick streak, the spectacle of Granny trying her best to engage their non-existent sense of enthusiasm has provided me with much entertainment on summer afternoons.

        • wiggiatlarge
          August 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

          Ah the climbing the rope torture for the fat boy, I doubt if many of us of a certain age have not seen the sadistic PE teacher who insists the fat boy climbs the rope whilst egging on the rest of the boys to laugh at him and worse, no sitting this one out for Bunter.

  12. August 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    A somewhat jaundiced recollection of schooldays, lads. Mavericks and herd beasts, eh?

    There is beauty in a collection of individuals temporarily sacrificing a portion of that individuality, for the good of the team, in order to achieve a certain goal and a great deal of satisfaction when a plan works out. Do I give the appearance of a herd beast … and yet seeing teamwork achieve a goal is uplifting, seeing your teammates appreciate your play is peer acceptance and there are good social lessons in team games.

    It’s not only in sport either. Take OoL – that’s a project which came together and the satisfaction is in seeing that happen. There’s a certain three musketeers to the OoL admins to an extent and that’s teamwork. 🙄

    • Bemused
      August 12, 2012 at 1:25 am

      James, I agree with your second paragraph in general, however I thought this post was about compulsory participation in sport? The same team members who appreciate a good play / sacrifice for the team are the same vultures who will make a persons life a misery if and when they fuck up. When you force people who have neither the inclination nor ability to participate the experience is spoiled for all. Including the good players.

    • August 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

      You are right about OoL. However, there is a crucial difference. it is voluntary. You do not need team games to achieve this.

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