Sports Day Ribbons…what’s happened to them?

Sports Day RibbonIndividual Sports Day Ribbons are obsolete unless of course you really know how to decorate your bike.  We acknowledge the ‘artsy’ kids but not the ‘athletic‘ ones.  Why is that?  We grade our kids in Math, Spelling, Art, Science, Social Studies, and PE in their daily school activities but we are afraid of hurting their feelings at Sports day.

Who decided that kids don’t need a ribbon for being the fastest in the relay or catching the most bean bags?  I understand that not everyone is good at sports but not everyone is good at art!  I think as parents it is up to us to encourage our kids and give them support for trying their best.  Sometimes your personal best is just not good enough to come first place!  Is that so bad?  Olympic athletes are going for the Gold metal but only few achieve it!  This doesn’t discourage them from training for years to give it their best.  Which sadly is sometimes not good enough, but we all still love to watch them try.

Sports day today is made up of  ‘Houses’ with names and colours attached such as the ‘Green Flaming Frogs’.  The kids in the school are divided up into those groups and their group competes for points in order to win 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, as a group.  There is no individual ribbons given out anymore.  To make it worse they don’t even get their ribbon until the following week, when all the excitement has worn off.  Kind of like getting a pat on the back for something you did last week.  Anticlimactic!  There’s more…it’s also fixed on occasion just in case ‘yellow house’ has never won, they need a turn too.  What’s the world coming to.  Why can’t kids be acknowledge for their individual efforts instead of being lost in a group.  Come on it’s not a union job, it’s sports day!  There is nothing wrong with knowing as a child or adult that there will ALWAYS be someone bigger, stronger, faster, taller, smarter, funnier than you!  That’s life, embrace it.

Do we really think that kids would have as much fun or even want to put their best effort in if they knew it was fixed?  I hate to hear about sporting events being fixed.  It ruins it completely!  It’s not real!  Just like when you find out an Olympic athlete used steroids to win.  It’s not fair and you don’t really care about the results because it’s all made up.

When I was little every kid in the school decorated their bike.  You did it by yourself.  You didn’t want your parents help or it wasn’t your ribbon you won, if you won.  Your effort or creativity usually matched your placing.  Usually, just like in real life.  Makes perfect sense.

I spent the entire day with my kids at their sports day.  I love to see them having fun, being challenged and bonding with their friends.  I cheer them on with words of encouragement just to see the smiles on their faces while they try to balance a new potato on a spoon while running around a chair.  But much to my chagrin they still don’t give out ribbons to individual kids.

I remember when sports day was about trying your hardest and maybe coming home with a few colourful ribbons!  Sometimes you got 1st and sometimes you got 8th.  There was no ‘participation ribbon’.  If there were 6 kids in the race you could get anywhere from 1st place to 6th place.  You got a ribbon either way, it didn’t have to say 1st on it, it was just a different color.  At end of the day we all rode our bikes home talking about who won the relay or whose bike was the most creative.  We laughed and everyone loved the day from the moment they woke up to the moment their eyes closed that night from exhaustion!

I know I am not the only parent who thinks this or I wouldn’t have even thought it worth a post.  I don’t want any kids to feel bad at the end of the day for not getting the pretty purple ribbon but I honestly think this is adults sheltering kids from life lessons that they are more than equipped to deal with.  Perhaps a ‘sports day grinch’ story is behind it all.

I heard a couple parents talking last year about possibly arranging a ‘Rep Sports Day‘.  Tryouts will begin in the spring!  (that’s a joke)  Not a bad idea though.  House sports day or Rep?  Which would you sign your kids up for?  My son would be rep for sure!  My daughter, she’s just there for the fun experience, a true Canadian!  Did you win any ribbons as a kid or even care?

I recently had this article brought to my attention and wanted to add the link for those of you interested in reading more about Sports Day Ribbons!

Let school kids learn their life lessons early Skip self-esteem issues, stir up those competitive juices... by Jon Ferry