School of sport: KILLING IT!

THE Killing Fields was a powerful film about the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, in which two journalists exposed the fact that thousands and thousands of innocent people were being brutally executed and buried in mass graves, all for a few people’s achievement .

Of course, it’s not exactly a new story; It’s a story that has been repeated throughout history as individuals and countries go to war. It is also interesting how often it is claimed that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of one of Britain’s best-known independent schools, Eton. But perhaps it is a truism that these very playing fields are also killing fields.

It is well known that for years the world of professional sports has seen underhand activities, all in the pursuit of gold and victories and even power, but all with the effect of killing the sport. Drug use was a major threat, with cycling and athletics taking center stage. For years, people tried to prove the extent of drug use at the Tour de France, using denial, threats of legal action and bullying tactics.

This prompted a cycling journalist, Philippe Bouvet, to explain in a book by David Walsh called ‘Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong’: ‘There is a new way of cycling. You see things you don’t understand. Doping is an old story in cycling, but in recent years the manipulation of riders’ blood has changed the nature of competition. What we get is a caricature of the competition. It kills the sport. I can still write about cycling, but not in the same way, not with the same passion. Cycling needs to change.”

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In most countries, blood sports are banned as they are considered cruel, savage, bloody, and excessive and involve the hunting, wounding, and killing of animals. It has often been noted that there is a close resemblance between bloodsports and war in these actions, but we would do well to see that there is a quick parallel between bloodsports and sports, even in school sports. We kill the sport; indeed we club it out, not least through the amount of sneaky, ruthless, unnecessary, dishonest cranial pit lurking around it.

This is a serious matter and it is very important that we take it seriously, even when it comes to school sports. We too, as coaches and parents, are at risk of killing our school sport in a variety of ways. We’re killing the sport with all the wasted time we see when a team leads; we see it in faking an injury with the intention of scoring a penalty; in the standing award, even if it is obvious; when the coach interferes in both the game and the office; in old age cheating; in player purchase; in goal celebration; in the appeal decision; in substance abuse; bark in the crowd; cry in war. We suck the life out of sport and strip it of all meaning and meaning.

What’s more, we’re killing the sport by killing the talent. Coaches and parents alike push kids too soon too quickly; They overwhelm children far too much at a young age, killing not only sport but children’s love of sport.

Of course, we think that we “kill” in the sense that we’re brilliant at school; We refer to the results and the number of our players selected for provincial and national teams.

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Yet we kill it in the sense that we don’t adhere to or teach values ​​that are central to a child’s upbringing. By not showing values, we encourage our children to cheat, lie, bully, which they will then carry into their adult lives. Doping is duplicating. We are stupid when we dope and we only cheat when we think differently or when we think we are helping the children in our care. Doping is more than just drugs; It’s a mental exercise. And it’s dangerous.

Something has to change; School sport needs to change. Much like the Phillipe Bouvet quoted above, this writer no longer has the same passion for school sports as it has actually become a caricature. David Walsh claims in his book that the Tour de France has become a “fake” competition. In fact, competition had become corrupt. We must not let school sport get that far. David Walsh also says: “I don’t care who wins the race. What is important to me is clean sport.” That should be the case for all of us. Our playing fields must not become killing fields.

Tim Middleton is a former international hockey player and school principal who currently serves as Executive Director of the Association of Trust Schools. Email: [email protected]

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