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June 12th, 2013

Sports Day! After practices, white-line painting and prayers for good weather, it’s an afternoon of glorious wins and doleful defeats, with an air of parental pride and vicarious dream-fulfilment…

…plus, an entertaining overflow of egos in the Fathers’ Race. In some ways, Sports Day is very different now, from days of old. The children often get badges just for taking part; very inclusive and conciliatory, but does that please all the parents?

An ineradicable competitive spirit exists amongst dads at events of all kinds, especially when they’re on display before wives and kids. Prehistoric instincts call up silliness which they’d normally control.

The American urge to encourage children by example can be even stronger, and the over-age locker-room boisterousness is greater. The years drop away with the sound of bat against ball, and a fighting spirit returns, though it’s meant to be for the kids to fulfil.

Probably every father would like to see his son – or daughter – kick a football into a goal; and some of dad’s talent or driving ambition is sure to show, even decades after his own finest hour.

The best family sporting moments appear where cross-generational teams are possible. Just as long as energetic enthusiasm doesn’t put safety at risk. It may be even safer with junior at the helm…

…dinghy racing is great for parent-and-child teams, benefiting from dad’s experience, strength and moveable ballast, and the quick wits and agility of the next generation.

Getting the whole family on board is possible, if not quite perfect; but nothing beats Sports Day for raising the collective pulse.

There’s always somebody who falls over in a parents’ race…is it the damp grass, unsuitable footwear or lack of practice? Fortunately, when it’s the Mums’ Race, everyone’s too polite to snigger…..

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