Wednesday, December 13, 2006

LibDem MP Calls for School Sports Days to be Scrapped

Yes, you read that right. And it's not me hyping something up to bash the LibDems. Romsey MP Sandra Gidley has called for school sports days to be scrapped because she thinks it humiliates children who lose.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on public health, Mrs Gidley said: "Those children who are towards the end of the queue when the teams are being picked soon get the message and decide that they do not want to exercise because they do not want to make fools of themselves. "That is not a positive experience. If a child cannot read, they are not put on a stage and made to stumble through the alphabet or a passage of Shakespeare, yet little thought is given to the children who do not excel at sport." The MP called for a greater focus on activities which focused on "personal improvement" like skipping, dance and games. She said: "I would ask that we try to get away from competitive sport in schools and think about increasing exercise and activity."

Read the full story HERE. Her constituents are not amused. It was Mrs Gidley who was the first MP to wield the knife against Charles Kennedy. Just thought I'd mention that.


Jeremy Moulton said...

It was an unbelievably stupid comment that she made.

She thinks school sports days should be replaced by skipping!!!

The story has been covered quite a bit in our local paper. On Monday there was an article about it which read almost like Mrs Gidley had released it as a press release!

Yesterday the sports writer took her to task over it.

Here are some of the comments on the
subject today:

Anonymous said...

What rubbish. I came last in sports day at Primary School and ended up winning the 100 metres at senior school (fell over while leading the next year but that's another story). If kids aren't thaught how to lose at school, then they're in for a big shock when they enter into the big bad world.

Anonymous said...

It's just the final straw, isn't it?

If we continue this theory, before we know it there will be no exams and we will all have to wear masks for fear that someone might think that one person is better looking than another...!

Man in a Shed said...

Has she cleared this one with Ming ? - I doubt it.

Still, I can see why being nice to losers would be a priority for Lib Dems.

Maybe next she'll ask to ban elections as people lose those also.

Croydonian said...

Maybe elections should be scrapped too, as they are so humiliating for any number of candidates.

Anonymous said...

These are children that one day may be required to defend their country. Life is about survival of the fittest. If a child loses a race they do not give up on life, losing tends to encourage people to find something they are good at so they can be winners. Without competition the human race would not be where it is today
Take away the desire to be the best and the why bother mentality will continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

Ah, then we should just do it the Japanese way.

I was teaching in a rather good school out there last year and was shocked to discover that the races on sportsday were specially designed so that no child could win or lose.

What a miserable few hours that was.

Kids need to learn that in life some people are just crap.

Anonymous said...

Total moonbattery.

How long before some twit at CCHQ tries to make it official Tory policy?

Anonymous said...

one has only to look at the programme 'The Choir' to see what happens when this type of thinking takes over. Some of the children did not know how to take the fact that singing was not their 'thing' and felt terribly rejected. Not the fault of not being picked but the fault of today's society which tells them they can do everything that everyone else does and there is no such thing as competing and working for an aim.

It is unreal and unfair to let children think that life is fair, that they don't have to work for achievements and have to accept setbacks gracefully. Life can have huge disappointments and its how we handle them that defines what we are.

But on the other hand has this government or Lib Dems ever done anything gracefully -cannot even apologise and admit when they are wrong.

'Someone' else is always to blame (or baldness and a mid life crisis!)

Perhaps they lost the sprint or fell at the high jump

Wrinkled Weasel said...

If this is about forcing kids to do sport, then it is wrong.

I was always the smallest, weakest child in my class and sports did nothing but re-inforce my sense of inferiority.

There is nothing noble or remotely character forming about forcing a child to do something that ritually humiliates them on a regular basis.

Offering sports facilities to those who want to compete is another thing altogether and sports days should be a voluntary activity.

Anonymous said...

She is as batty as a fruit cake, obsessed with talking about sex (just check ) and told a Lib Dem fringe group that her election manifesto was dishonest.

Demoted by Ming, she is a semi-detached member of the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

The argument sppears to be at no point should we ever indicate that one child is better at an activity than another. Presumably this will spill over into other areas and no longer will we be held down by the idea of a meritocracy let mediocraty reign.So no more exams, careers will be assigned on a random selection basis. Political elcetions wiill go the same way, we can't have politicians being told they have less public support than the other candidates.

I look forward to the 2012 games when all the countries are given medals for entering but not for winning.

What a moron.

She misses an oppourtunity to actually make some sensible points about school sports. A recent study indicated that, when it somes to sport, children shouldn't be grouped by year group but by size since those born later are smaller and do less well against larger peers.

Anonymous said...

You are quite correct Wrinkled Weasel. I never cared for sports at school, but preferred cycling out of school hours, usually with like minded kids who didn't care for the bullying from the sports-master and mistress (why were they always such pigs?). The other thing that bothered me was stripping off for the showers as I was rather more 'developed' than the others.

Horror upon horrors, I was reading only yesterday that "Body Razors" are a big seller this Xmas. My daughter tells me that these are aimed at Males who shave off all their body hair as girls find it more attractive. Just what is happening to the male species?

Anonymous said...

"she is a semi-detached member of the Lib Dems."

They're all semi-detached.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Ms. Gidley, I went to a prep school in her constituency where this sort of comment might have been applicable. Every boy (ages 6-13) who failed to qualify for any other event on the Sports Day was entered into a cross country that involved running 2 miles through a muddy bog and finishing with an obstacle course much to the amusement of parents who took great pleasure at the travails of other people's muddied offspring.

At other times in the school calendar, there did seem to be lot of military style marching and cross-country runs through freezing rivers, etc. etc, but it was nearly forty years ago.

Didn't put me off sport, but it was all a bit unnecessary and not at all "character-building".

Anonymous said...

I think there's a sport for everybody but for many, including me, it's not football, cricket, rugby, etc. And really if you don't like those (and I don't as a participant or a spectator) then as far as mainstream is concerned you "don't do sport". Just look at what David Walliams has achieved. Not bad for someone who "didn't do sport". Heck, even I had a reasonably succesful amateur bash, some high finishes and the odd win here and there on the lower rungs, but it had absolutely zero to do with anything I'd done in school.

Anonymous said...

blöde Kuh!

She's the Liberal spokeswoman for Mental Health!

Is that from self evaluation, or what?

towcestarian said...

Both little towcestarians are poor sporting specimens, who at sports day only ever cross the line first in the slow cycling race. It doesn't seem to bother them too much but it certainly breaks my heart.

So lets keep competitive sports in the school curriculum but, for the sake of the parents, ban sports days (and nativity plays - the towcestarian clan also inhabit a particularly shallow bit of the gene pool for singing or acting talents).

Anonymous said...

I really despair of our MPs sometimes. What possesses them?

Was she one of those idiotic lefty, feminist, misandronistic teachers we had in the 80s?

Competition is healthy. We need to learn we will lose at some things.

Perhaps we should abolish elections and replace them with group hugs, I mean the losing candidates might get upset.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that she is trying to undermine Caroline Nokes, who came within a handful of votes of unseating Gidley in 2005, and is presently a local councillor responsible for leisure (inc. sport).

Anonymous said...

When these poor kids go out into the real world they will learn, (shock horror!) that there are winners and losers. It will hit them hard. I used to find this at the College where I taught. Some students had never failed an exam in their lives and were shocked to learn that such a thing was possible.

Anonymous said...

Man in A Shed and Croydonian - Both excellent points! And Andrew Woodman, I always came in last or second last not just on sports day, but in playground games, when children picked teams, I was always the last one - and I wasn't chosen. They had to take me because I was all that was left to make up the team. Life held few suprises when eventually, I got out into the real world.

I don't agree with you, Wrinkled Weasel - although obviously, every child is different, but I'd learned to take the knocks and push my way past setbacks. It was helpful to me that I was good academically, but sports and games had taught me not to be crushed by the disappointments that most of us experience at one time or another in our careers.

We have to learn to lose with good grace or none of us would ever try anything.

Anonymous said...

What will make me laugh though is if the Conservatives still cannot win this seat back at the next Election.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... buried beneath Lib Dem idiocy is a point of sorts.

On the one hand, I agree with those who comment that it is character-building for children to learn what it means to fail. The reasons given by Sandra Gidley are stupid. There's nothing wrong with school sports days which, incidentally, often promote a feeling of achievement in just the pupils who otherwise struggle at school.

On the other hand, it is important for children to be encouraged to be fit and healthy, and I for one was put off sports for life because sport at school placed exclusive emphasis on being the best rather than in taking part. I would have benefited enormously if more emphasis had been placed at school on general fitness. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to do both?

Anonymous said...

God, what next - proportional representation!?

Croydonian said...

An uncle of mine deserves the Order of Gidley, with bar, oak leaves, swords and diamonds as he succeeded in skipping every single opportunity to partake in cross-country running while at school.

Whispering Walls said...

On her constituency biography, she claims to play wonder she talks a load of shuttlecocks

Anonymous said...

"Those children who are towards the end of the queue when the teams are being picked soon get the message and decide that they do not want to exercise because they do not want to make fools of themselves. "

What sort of school sports day is that from? Is this a rather selective quote or did i go to the only school where sports day was about individual races (except the relay)

Anonymous said...

Just had a look at her photo and having seen the way her clothes are fighting her hips I would suggest that ms gidley never has been one for sporting endeavour.

Anonymous said...


Although I feel for you & yours, it IS important to not only compete, but to have the results on public display. It goes back a long way. The big, strong, fast get seen, get hitched, and have more big, strong, fast! Letting the weak / useless fall by the wayside is a way of getting rid of that gene, sure that's what the human race wants?


Anonymous said...

Looking at her photo, any truth that she was first in the 2 bag race?

Kerron said...

Yeah I saw this.

But more importantly, can you Curb your enthusiasm for the new Hammers chief, Iain?

Anonymous said...

Iain, this isn't news - it's ancient history. This happened last week, and you didn't say complain then.

Anonymous said...

Her Tory opponent takes plenty of regular exercise!

Anonymous said...

Iain, slightly off topic I know, but in my [grammar] school we didn't have the choice of doing metalwork and stuff, only 'Woodwork'. And whilst we did that the girls did 'Cookery'.

[My recollection is that they were only just in the process of re-naming it 'Domestic Science'].

What a waste of time that was ! If only we had been taught cookery, that would have been far more useful in later life, but being a school with a 'rugby' tradition no doubt the other boys would consider it an injury to their manhood to have even considered such a thing.

The 'all must have prizes' nonsense does annoy me though. Those kids are in for a heck of a shock in later life when they realise real life is not like that - viz. 'X-Factor'..

Anonymous said...

st crispin - Well if eugenics is your thing why not nick a few more ideas from the nazis ? Do you not understand that when Darwin wrote about evolution and 'survival of the fittest' he did not mean the fittest physically.

He meant 'most well adapted to their environment'. Animals with better camouflage aren't necessarily faster, stronger or can jump higher. They can avoid predators for another reason.

Anonymous said...

I was rubbish at sports & avoided sports days when I could.

I made up for it by beating the other people in my class at almost every other subject in school;what made it all the more satisfying was the fact that they looked down on me as being working class!

I don't think I suffered a feeling of inferiority as a result of being bad at sports!

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, is that the best you can do? Someone left a comment on the blog about it this morning so I followed it up. The date on the story on the Southern Evening Echo website was yesterday, not last week.

Anonymous said...

Think about exercise and activity when her surname contains the word idle?

kinglear said...

If anyone watched the Choir on TV the otherday, you would have seen the result of INTRODUCING competition and actual failure. Suddenly, there where 40 kids who WANTED to succed at something and were bitterly disappointed when some of them didn't make it. In life, you had better be prepared to fail, and put up with it, otherwise you are going to be a permanently disatisfied and unhappy.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, she's right in that it is rather humiliating, but that's part of life. Children shouldn't be shielded by the state from the realities of life.

Anonymous said...

Which "anonymous° are you talking about Ian?

There must be about 100 "anonymous" contributors here as it is the "default" if someone is too idle, or nervous, about declaring any sort of pseudonym. I strongly suspect that several of the anonymous authors post opposing opinions in the same blog just to cause havoc!

Anonymous said...

My alma mater always finished with a tug'o war. That way, the well-upholstered bunters who didn't trouble the scorer earlier in the afternoon felt important as we tied the end of the rope round their waists and told them to lean backwards on the shout of PULL. Bribing them with a curly wurly usually did the trick.

I propose a game of Catch the Greased Gidley at Romsey sports day. All shall win prizes!

Anonymous said...

This was on 'Today In Parliament' last week. Although since that is radio, maybe it isn't 'sexy' enough to be required listening for political bloggers...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4 02 - Oh, no! Cookery! I failed that, too! Even now, if the instructions on the packet say, "Add one cup of water", I always think in irritation, "Well, do they mean a big cup or a little cup? What am I? A mind reader?" Hand on heart, I have never followed a recipe in my life.

Anonymous said...

The problem with sports day's isnot schools, it is pushy parents. I remember the bollocking my dad gave me because I was not in any of the events.

I was not unathletic, nor disinterested in sports; I just didn't like school.

Sports days are OK so long as kids are allowed to be not interested. But in my experience they aren't because both my two coerced me into providing excuses for them

Joe Otten said...

Iain you might have a point here if you didn't invent the stuff about scrapping sports day. This isn't what Gidley is saying. [And if she does now say it somewhere else, I will tick her off for it.]

Yes, she is talking about less sports, and more of other kinds of exercise for children who want it.

What is the problem with this? IMHO children who want to do sports should do sports, and children who want to dance and skip should do that. Then everybody is happy and everybody gets exercise.

My kids do sport and dancing as they wish.

Sure, Gidley could have been a little less ambiguous. I guess all you are doing is invoking the worst possible interpretation of what somebody else has said, and this sort of behaviour is the bread and butter of politics. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Non- competitive Sports Day was fashionable (briefly) in the late eighties. Parental pressure restored the status quo.
Sports days are not enjoyed by teachers. Parents are worse than football hooligans in "supporting" their children.

towcestarian said...

St Crispin

Despite ongoing very public humiliation on the sports-field, it is unlikely that the towcestarian clan will die out because the males are all hung like donkeys and have no problem in finding mates. Maybe that is why we have difficulty running fast.

Anonymous said...

I hated sports at school and still do. Dodging it sharpened my wits and was good preparation for life. I also threw myself into the academic life and excelled at that. I enjoyed winning at that and didn't give a toss about losing at sport.

Some Tory voters went for Gidley last time as an anti-war protest by the way. Cameron/Maude please note

Anonymous said...

The new Lib Dem prescription for games in our schools will be compulsory 'knife the leader' followed by 'dodging the brownies'

Anonymous said...

Gidley a 'semi-detached member'?

surely there are a few MPs in other parties as well as the lib dems who could benefit from 'completely-detached members'?

Anonymous said...

Like anonymous -I was absolutely hopeless at sports and even worse at gym


give me history & English Lit and I shone so much I made top of the class several times .

Moral - we are all good at something and to stop sports days means stopping some children who are hopeless in class achieving something on the sports field. Do they still have 'cups' to win?

Anonymous said...

I think what the Lib Dems mean is they want to ban COMPARATIVE sports.

Call the new exercisport "Apples and Oranges" - the rules are simple.

No child is allowed to do the same exercise in an observable distance (100 meters) of another child in a memorable time (1 hour). Thus ensuring that no comparisons are ever made.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I can appreciate the sentiments behind her comments.

If a young child is obsessively conscious about their abilities or physical appearance, they should not be made to go through what is, to them, ritualistic humiliation. They are probably just as aware that they will come last as their peers are.

As it is not an important academic pursuit, children should be free to choose to participate in events like sports days. They are, after all, meant to be fun, aren't they? What's the point if some children aren't having any fun?

To suggest that sports days be withdrawn altogether is, however, absurd.

Throughout life, competition should be something voluntary- it should not be forced upon anybody. Individuals should be free to choose whether or not they participate in competition and whether or not they reap the rewards and benefits of it.

Anonymous said...

She's half right.

We need to find ways of getting those kids that aren't naturally sporty into physical activity.

Just as we need to get kids that aren't natural mathematicians to be comfortable with numeracy.

Banning comptetitive sport isn't at all helpful, and it'd throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Bur rather than just scoffing, take on board what she's concerned about, and come up with better ideas.

Getting away from Punch and Judy politics takes some effort, but if you actually want to make a difference, get beyond just being superior and dismissive.

Anonymous said...

Pity she didn't go to an English Secondary School............I don't think German schools have sports since they knock off at lunchtime. She also went to a German girls school which must be dull as dishwater

At least we know she's a is good to know that the kooks can still find a home with the Yello Ones.

The woman is suck in a 1970s groove and she isn't even a crackpot teacher simply an addled pharmacist.

Not worth commenting is time for real gladiatorial combat in schools so we can get rugby players and cricketers who can beat Australians who are atavistic monsters on the sports field

Anonymous said...

She has a point, but I'll take a slightly different interpretation to the one she took.

Why are we only openly competitive in sport?

We should put all children up on stage in front of parents, friends, teachers etc... and get them to solve simple sums, sing, draw, or whatever else.

Then those people who can't do basic mathematics, or are tone death, will rightly be ridiculed and either learn that they are f***ing useless at it and never try again, or grit their teeth and try and get better.

Being laughed at for constructing ridiculous arguments would certainly give most posters here a taste of things to come.


Anonymous said...

Can't Mrs Gidley have a word with Ponting to sort out a mutually agreeable outcome to The Ashes?

Monteeeee go man go.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

That is really terribly stupid. I have the atheletic ability of a dodo but denying sports days to children is just daft. After all the humiliation they suffer when being shite at all events will prepare them nicely for the disappointments later in life (like learning they can't be a pop star etc).

Anonymous said...

I think Gidley is way way off. I think bullying in our schools humiliates children more than sports day! The way government and schools have dealt with the bullying epidemic over previos decades is nothing but a complete and utter disgrace.

Anonymous said...

This is rediculous. I went through school and I was terrible at sport. Mrs Gidley went to school (I presume) and she survived. Everyone managed it, why do we persist on treating our children as if they are too easily breakable. This counts for the 'deffered success' as well! My grandparents, went through it, as did their's and we all survived.

Take away sports day and being told we are wreong and you end up with an inability to distinguish right and wrong, an inability to accept failure (which happens to everyone at some point) and an inflated sense of immortality. Actually that sounds liek the Labour front bench to me!

Anonymous said...

As usual, it's a case of double standards, here. Iain Dale defends Ian Duncan Smith for being misquoted about gay parents, but then deliberately misquotes a Lib Dem MP. He leaves out the full quote to deliberately pain her as over-PC and unrealistic.

The quote actually continues "Personal improvement initiatives are much more positive and inspiring for children than those in which their performance is compared with that of others."

Obviously that adds sense to what had the potential to be very confusing quote. Mr Dale, your double standards expose how biased and weak your criticisms of my party are.