Sports Day 2008

Thank heaven the weather held out. While I did not enjoy the burning heat on my face during last Friday’s Swiss Olympics (no less!), I must say it was a hundred times better than the downpour that washed out our sports meet last year. I have come to the conclusion that rain is only cool when you are in it. When you are squashed under limited shelter with more than a thousand sweaty people it is distinctly uncomfortable. And the good people from Milo were kind enough to give us fans and visors, so it was not as much of a trial as it would have been without any such implements.

 The day started out beautifully. So many students made the effort to get to the stadium on time. My husband dropped me off, and both of us were marvelling at how well-behaved everyone was as they trooped to the track. I saw three girls hopping out of the back of a lorry- probably driven by a loving father who was kind enough to give his daughter’s friends a lift. What was our reward for being on time? The chance to watch a breathtaking sunrise in the open sky over the track.

 After the attendance had been taken, a problem became apparent. Space for everyone to sit on the bleachers seemed to be in short supply. This led to all of us shifting from side to side as each new person who came along to help had a different idea about how to best accomodate so many bottoms on so few seats. Even the VPs got involved. It was a bit like doing the shuffle! Well- I got my exercise for the day!

 I loved the idea of getting athletes to take an oath to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship. In an age when we see so many of our heroes getting knocked off their pedestals by performance-enhancing drugs, players chasing the most lucrative sponsorship and advertising deals as soon as they reach the top, and most sports losing the respect of their spectators due to the emphasis on winning rather than excellent performance, an athelete’s oath is a timely reminder to all of us that sports is about so much more than it has become.

With the student commentators at the microphones, the teachers and sports leaders at their posts and the runners at their marks, the sports meet was poised to take off.

Wow you guys really run fast! I have noticed that the boys and girls have different ways of running. The boys throw their heads back and some even pump their heads forwards and back as they run. I am not sure how this helps but it seems to do the job. The girls tend to tuck their chins in, and power forward, arms and legs working furiously. I wish I could say that watching all of you reminded me of myself when I was your age, but I am nothing if not honest, and I have NEVER been able to run that fast! So I live vicariously by watching all you energetic and motivated people.

The cheering was a bit of a flop, I am sorry to say. There were a few half-hearted screams, but that is not the same as cheering, which achieves its full force when everyone joins in as one voice and roars their support for their house, their teams and their runners. I didn’t see much of that. Having said that though, I think one problem was the design of the stadium. All of you were sitting in a row, and your voices were lost in the open air. If the rows had curved more towards each other, you would have been able to make yourselves heard by all the other houses. It is a bit of an anticlimax when you have no idea you have been bombed, and are therefore unable to fire a salvo in response.

I always look forward to the competition in which all the cheerleaders strut their stuff. And this year was far from disappointing. Some of you make fantastic dancers- I was very impressed by the choreography and level of coordination. I know how hard that is to achieve. The most enjoyable items were the ones where everyone had equal focus-no stars who stood out and stole the show. After all, cheerleading is a team activity.

 Some interesting commentary by our student commentators, and I liked the way they made it interesting with their banter. I know there were a few gaps in communication between the track officials and the commentators, but it was nothing that couldn’t be solved, and any tense moments were quickly bypassed and it was back to business.

Prizegiving was very quickly dispensed with, I thought. Seeing my students up on the stands receiving their well-deserved medals was very rewarding for me, especially when I recognised those of you who work hard in class as well. I think that when you have learned how to transfer the skills you need to do well in sports over to your studies as well, you can say you are a complete sportsperson; this is because you cannot say that you are only going to perform well on the track. Being able to excel in every area of your life is what makes you stand out. This is not to say you have to be perfect. I have the highest regard for people who strive for excellence, even if excellence itself is a moving target.

I left the stadium with a sense of satisfaction, a burnt face and a heat-induced headache. Luckily Holland Village was nearby. Lunch in air-conditioned comfort followed by a restorative round of shopping put back some of the energy that (watching people) running had taken out of me.

Well done, guys. Now back to work!

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