School of sport: IT IS ALL A BIG CON!

V For Vendetta

“VOILÀ! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished.

However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.” These were the wonderful words of the heroic character in the 2005 film ‘V For Vendetta’ which portrays a fight against the oppressors of the world.

This article simply seeks to fight against the oppressors of school sport who stand with the slogan of V for Victory. For the truth is that for the most part it is all a big con! Let us consider why it is all a con.

We have considered in previous articles how any contest must be seen in its context, not purely in conquest, and that we must be content in all we contend, lest we fall into contempt or conceit. We will now conclude that the constant conversation on this convoluted consultation often provides little consolation but much confusion. We must therefore consider further how we can convince all who are willing to contemplate and even concede the true condition of school sport.

School sport is certainly about the physical condition of children but must be seen equally to be about the connection between people (not just as players), on both sides, as they congregate on the field. It aims for further connaisance leading to greater contemplation (of the five Cs of learning, being critical thinking, creativity, communication, cooperation, character), consent, conviction, consistency, concentration and contribution in a convivial atmosphere in a contemporary setting.

Children need to learn to conserve energy, control the ball (and play), consider all options in given situations, configure ways to handle difficulties, ensure consecutiveness, exude confidence and contain pressure. All these must be in our children’s consciousness more than simply conning the referee and congratulating themselves on their victories.

It is in our control to contribute to the conversation without any contrivement and we must consolidate the condition in which our children confront this controversy. Conversion to this conviction through a contagious approach should be the continual goal of all coaches and parents. In short, so much of school sport is a big con.

So much that is presented is a confidence trick, a scam, to try to make children believe in something that actually often does not produce the important result, not simply the sports result. This is not a game we are playing; this is our children’s well-being and life. We are conning ourselves, not just our children, if we continue to demand greater conquests without consolidating the very safety, sanity and serenity of our children in their sport.

Their focus should be on the journey, on the places they visit, the people they meet, the experiences they encounter, rather than simply where they end up. Yet, we, the adults, only want them to visit the village of Win, the town of Victory, the city of Unbeaten while ignoring the terrain in between.

One writer has said that “the confidence game is a deception that leads to criminal results, and its perpetrators deserve no acclaim as they do not embody any characteristics of true human nature.” School sport is not a game, though.

We are in danger of defrauding the children if we do not take this seriously. Like confidence tricksters in the wider world, we all too often “play on their immature selfish desires, greed and ambition” to gain as much as possible (with reference to reputation) with the least possible effort.

This is not a conspiracy theory yet our view of school sport remains a conundrum with many contradictions. Our concerted concern is that we confirm the real conclusion; we must not be conned into thinking that school sport is about V for victory, vanquishing, vengeance, vendettas. V also stands for Victims and we must not allow our children to become the victims of our oppression to make an impression of ourselves or our school.

 If we do, we are the villains. Get it right and we will be able to say “congratulations”! That will be a Victory for values and virtues.

Tim Middleton is a former international hockey player and headmaster, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Association of Trust Schools Email: [email protected]

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