Field Day Fun and Letdowns

“We swear, that we will take part in the 1966 School Street School Field Day, with loyal competition, respecting the regulations that govern it and desirous of participating in it, for the honor of our team, our school, and the glory of sports.”

That is the oath, as best I can remember, which we all recited at the beginning of our annual field day competition. It was modeled after the Olympic oath. Unlike your Field Day at Valley View when you could participate as early as kindergarten, we had to wait until fourth grade. The rest of the school could only watch, so it was a day we looked forward to when we were in the earlier grades.

I am familiar with your field day, because not only did I watch each of you compete in the various events, one year, I was responsible for organizing it. That involved enlisting other parents to act as judges, purchasing the food and beverages, setting up early that morning, and cleaning up at the end of the day.

Most of your games were team events such as the egg toss, tug-of-war, and the “keeping the beach ball off the ground competition.” Each class would battle for the gold against the other classes I think, while my field day consisted of primarily individual events with the exception of the relay races.  I think the change was probably instituted after some stupid psychologist or pediatrician began preaching about self-esteem and positive parenting at the expense of real-world lessons on winning and losing. You must have heard about the little league games, when each inning is played until everyone hits the ball rather than after three outs. (Let’s not hurt Johnny’s feelings!) I believe that when Bryce goes to play soccer this philosophy makes sense, but in a few years, all children must learn to accept defeat as well as winning.

But back to me…I remember competing in the high jump and standing long jump as well as the bongo board. That bongo board event, devised for people like me who had little athletic ability, involved standing on a narrow wooden board balanced on top of a wooden cylinder. The winner was the kid who could stand the longest without falling. Each year, the winner of every event was recorded to see if they had broken an old school record. Clearly, I broke no records, but I seem to think Uncle Mart may have at one time.

The reward for being in sixth grade was twofold. Each year, one lucky boy and girl from the senior class of our school won an award for sportsmanship. Aunt El won it her year. Karen won it my year. I may have been a runner up—maybe.

Not only did I not win an award for having good sportsmanship, I did not get to participate in the Maypole dance. That was my biggest disappointment. I knew I was not athletic, but I really wanted to do the Maypole dance. The dance involved skipping around a large pole while holding onto long ribbons which were attached on top. Half the group went clockwise, and the other half counterclockwise so that at the end, the ribbons were all nicely woven around the pole like this Maypole dance I found on youtube. It sounds stupid and looks stupid, but at the time, I was sad when I was not chosen to perform this coveted dance.

Yet despite my disappointments that year, I survived. After all, I did get chosen to be on the AVA squad and kindergarten class helper. (See Six Grade Big Shots) Athletics have just never been my thing.