Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Unsporty Good Sport

My hands are tied behind my back by one pink and white stripy knee-length sock and a partially drenched imitation Harry Potter scarf blind-folds me as I dunk my head in cold water, almost head-butting the bottom of the container in excitable but doomed repeat attempts to locate my targets; I'm actually at work- not at war or being tortured.

As a child I dreaded Sports Day. I always seemed to wind up in schools that made participation compulsory and remember annually coming in last without fail at the even more torturous termly Cross-Country Run event – always red-faced and heavily panting to the extent concerned games teachers would recommend I stop.

Today I'm voluntarily participating in a school Sports Day as one of the “athletes”, except today is reminiscent of primary school days – a time when I was far too over-weight to be wearing tiny blue shorts but still in the awkward transition between seemingly carefree primary school days and the far more taxing acutely self-conscious teenage years.

Working in the “Inclusion Unit” or “Study Centre” with pupils the school has virtually turned its back on, my colleague and I have been left in the uncomfortable position of having to tell our charges that they are no longer allowed to go to an end of year Summer Sports Day they'd previously been given permission to attend. In order to alleviate the blow of this inexplicable quite unjustified change of plan, we devise an alternative mini Sports Day for the Study Centre pupils.

Unlike Sports Days of my youth, the school I'm working in does not dictate everyone competes so what would have been a chance to finally socialise with peers is now another day stuck with the same two dreary teachers while the rest of the school get coaches out to a nearby stadium.

Naturally when the day arrives, out of our cohort of five only one arrives and chooses to remain in school, adultly coping with her disappointment. With this in mind, my partner in irritation and I have no other choice but to participate to give our one “athlete`' someone to compete against.

Queue me painfully losing every event with the exception of two highly skilled well-known sports – the chocolate game and weaving around the benches holding a full cup of water, with the aim of spilling the least. We've done apple bobbing; egg and spoon; raced like spiders; raced in large plastic postal sacks; hopped on one leg and two; attempted a straight-forward sprint and even started a timed tent-assembling contest.

As the day draws to an end, we retire inside for the chocolate game – although perhaps conflicting with the very nature of Sports Day, I vaguely remember playing this as a child at Birthday parties and recall enjoying it so decide it's a good way to end an actually quite tiring day.

In order to achieve my second and final victory of the day, I dress at speed into tracksuit bottoms, a vest top, a zip-up hoodie, a woolie hat, a head band and gloves while the timer ticks and “Eye of the Tiger” plays out. All this is worn over my work attire, making it even more challenging to neatly cube a bar of refrigerated chocolate with a knife and fork. I'm happy to have won something else but unlike school days, feel little humiliation at accumulated losses throughout the day and wonder if there's any scope for Olympic Chocolate game try-outs for 2012.

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