Sorry about the rant this week. It’s on behalf of all weary parents who are under fire yet again because our kids don’t like gym. Our fault because we don’t encourage physical exercise.
Well, see below. And it doesn’t seem to be changing. It’s the same old routine of team games and play up, play up and play the game.
We’re talking exercise here, not training to take on Usain Bolt, for heaven’s sake.
It’s about being fit for life. The old standbys of ball and stick don’t translate into post-school lives, particularly women’s. How many mums have you seen expertly dribbling their two-year-old down the freezer aisle whilst overhand lobbing beans into the trolley? Admittedly, I have seen the occasional mother-toddler WWE smackdown in Asda.
Let’s try step or yoga, even jogging. How about organised litter picks? Or offer to walk dogs for housebound folk? Exercise isn’t about rules and settling scores but enjoying being fit.
No-one of certain vintage could love PE for a reason
If you are of an age when The Osmonds were considered rock and roll, then you’ll remember school PE teachers. The blokes had actually enjoyed their National Service and the women regarded sport as something jolly, but with a sinister edge.
They were seldom found in the staff room. If you wanted to find Miss McKean, you didn’t bother with the smokers’ den up in the main building, you trotted down to the tiny office in the gym block, where heating was regarded as the enemy of the clean living and tracksuits were always worn.
PE was all about the team. Volleyball, football, hockey, rounders. I hated them all, particularly netball. When you are the height of Bilbo Baggins and the shape of a badly-fluffed duvet, you don’t really play netball. You watch it happening above your head.
Volleyball, on the other hand, had definite advantages for a geeky girl who had an interest in the Battle of Waterloo, since the sport seemed to involve mainly standing still whilst Brenda Laurence fired a projectile the same shape as a cannon ball in my direction. I tended to regard the incoming fire with a sort of bemused detachment, whilst wondering if this is what it was like in the square as the French battered ordinance into the ranks. Well, I remained detached right up until the ball smacked me in the face, then I became concussed, which Miss McKean regarded as a poor excuse for lying down on the court.
Hockey was a disaster. They sent me off for unnecessary roughness. To this day I resent that ref’s decision. They gave me a weapon. Darwinian evolution would tell you, as a considerably smaller mammal than the rest of the beasts with blue thighs on the freezing sports field, I would fight for my survival by thwacking the nearest ankle that came within stick distance.
Physical exercise was a gut-churning combination of freezing knees, chaffed thighs, streaming eyes and snotters. Not, under any circumstances, a good look.
School gym is the reason most Scots prefer their sports on the telly and their bahookies on the couch.
Don’t let our great festival become history
November already. You can tell. The tinsel is creeping into the shops, slowing taking over the shelves like a slithering glittering virus. Which means it’s time for the History Festival again! Yes, Scotland’s largest history festival – www.historyfest.co.uk – is coming straight at you with the power of Brenda Laurence’s volleyball serve. We’ve got classes in tracing your family tree, talks from some of Scotland’s greatest historians, Tom Devine being interrogated by Lesley Riddoch and debates to get involved in. We’ve even got Neil Oliver. What we don’t have is funding. Apparently, a festival that last year had 69 partners generating 236 events with more than 5000 people attending isn’t creative enough for the folk with the money. Look out for the programmes. Hand them round. We haven’t got many.
Put brakes on leadership myth
In every class, there were the sports stars, the netballers and the hockey gals.
They tended to be much beloved of the tracksuited loners in the gym block, who believed their high-jumping, cross-country, run-scoring darlings should be motivated to become leaders.
Quite why this myth that people who are good at sports make great leaders still staggers and baffles me. Would you put Paul Gascoigne in charge of Diageo? Lance Armstrong leading the sales team peddling drugs for Pfizer?
Anyway, once a week, these class jocks would get a taste of leadership when they were allowed to choose their teams.
It was institutional bullying. I can’t be the only one who stood knowing I’d be the last name called, mainly because I looked as athletic as a strategically shaved panda.
Is it any wonder I hated PE so much I once chewed a bar of soap and claimed I had rabies to get out of it?