It’s School Sports Week, so Dotty Winters is wondering if we could update sports day to include some real-life skills, like running to answer the phone while dressing.
I attended my son’s sports day last year. I didn’t recognise any of it. I was told that they’d updated sports days to include more team games and to better reflect the types of skill which the children would need in future. Bollocks.
It is clear to me that this new approach simply lacks imagination. A few tweaks and a bit of style and we could have kept the spirit of the old favourites and repurposed them to help with modern life. Here is my outline of the perfect retro-inspired sports day which will equip you with valuable skills for modern living.
Egg and Spoon: The egg and spoon race had its place, but a more useful balancing act would be to cross a field with your best effort from the all-you-can-eat-salad-buffet without losing the cherry tomatoes. Much like in drinking games, quantity matters as much as quality, so extra points are awarded if you can load your bowl with more slightly-slimy salad than you would ever intend to eat.
You are only limited by the size of the allocated bowl, and your imagination (although a wise woman once taught me that judicious use of tessellated cucumber can create an impressive bowl extension, which is relatively structurally stable, especially when reinforced with potato salad).
Three-legged race: While the concept of the three-legged race has undoubted figurative beauty, with its requirement to work ‘as one’ and communicate effortlessly, it has not ever, and will never be, as hilarious, or as speedy as walking like The Monkees.
Learning to do The Monkees Walk at an early age will stand you in good stead for many a future night out. Extra points if you can still win while carrying a bag of chips or singing any song which isn’t by The Monkees.
Throwing a beanbag into a hula hoop: This event requires only minor adjustments to make it useful. Beanbags will be swapped for still-warm korma-filled nappies, and the hoop will be replaced with the lap of someone you purport to love.
100-yard dash: Running in a straight line unimpeded is all very well, but it’s not enough to survive in the cut-throat world of the modern commuter. To update the event, the start should be signalled by the appearance of platform numbers on overhead matrix signs. Runners should head off in multiple directions simultaneously, each clutching a seat reservation which they’ve temporarily forgotten the purpose of. The winner gets a table seat with a working socket.
Sack race: I have very little day-to-day use for hopping about in a sack. I see how the skills transfer into hopping about in a sleeping bag, but even that is fairly rarely needed. It is, however, endlessly surprising to me how often I attempt to run to the phone while I have only managed partially dress myself, and I could certainly do with polishing up the grace with which I move in this state.
The revised race begins with all competitors with too-skinny skinny-jeans pulled up to mid-calf, and ends when the first competitor makes it 100 yards to the ringing phone and tells the caller that they didn’t have any fucking PPI insurance.
Tug of War: The risk of rope burn and the need to work as a team makes this feel like an outdated skill. In the future all ropes will be replaced by computers, probably. I propose a more realistic one-on-one battle for the last two Pringles in the tube.
The Wheelbarrow Race: This event can remain unchanged. Wheelbarrowing is a perfectly serviceable solution on a hefty night out when your high heels start to rub. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. You’ve always wanted a nose job on the NHS.
And for those of you who feel a bit less sporty, I’ve got you covered. Over there in the marquee where the warm cups of squash are served, we’ve set up a Generation Game-style conveyor belt, but with passwords.
Grab your plimsolls. Enjoy.
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Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.