The Telegraph is reporting comments from Sir Roger Bannister that children do not suffer emotional harm from coming second, made as he spoke out for competitive sport in schools and condemned the selling of playing fields…
Sir Roger, the Olympian who rose to world fame after breaking the four-minute-mile barrier in 1954, said he felt “terribly strongly” about the importance of physical education in school, adding that he felt changes in teaching were “worrying”.
He said prejudice against competitive sport had grown in recent decades, as a result of suggestions that it was “bad for character”. Sir Roger said experience had taught him children enjoy healthy competition, and rise to the challenge of a variety of sports to find the prospect of winning and losing “exciting”.
Speaking at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, Sir Roger added: “Children like competing. They don’t suffer an emotional crippling for life if they come second or third in the egg and spoon race.”
The former athlete also spoke out against the selling of school playing fields, and warned that the way PE is taught risks putting children off sport.
In his new autobiography, Twin Tracks, he urges the Government to recognise the importance of sport across all areas of society, and avoid the “destructive neglect” of allowing schools to discard daily exercise. Sir Roger, who served as the first chairman of the Sports Council after retiring from athletics, as well as working as a neurologist, told an audience: “In some schools, PE can be easily got out of; it’s not attractive because there’s no competition; or they have to get on a bus somewhere to get there because their playing fields have been sold off to fund a computer room. So they’ve got 20 minutes out of an hour and a half period actually doing PE.”
In his book, he points to changes in teacher training in the Fifties, as well as “more liberal concepts” that took hold in the Eighties about the negative impact of failure…
Do you think there is a prejudice against competitive sports in schools now? Last week we covered a report suggesting the majority of children would be “relieved or not bothered” if the competitive element was removed from sport. Should we respect their wishes or is Sir Roger right to want to encourage more competition? Please let us know in the comments, via Twitter and by taking part in our poll…[yop_poll id=”165″]