Sports day

Sports day

Sports days are annual events staged by many schools in which children participate in competitive sporting activities, often with the aim of winning trophies or prizes. They are usually held in the warmer seasons, either at the beginning or towards the end of the academic year. They are also called field days, hence the phrase "".

chool events

Primary school sports days are seen as light-hearted and informal occasions. They typically comprise activities such as the egg and spoon race and the sack race where the emphasis is on fun rather than sporting prowess. Other events may include the skipping race, where participants take a rope and skip along a course, and the three legged race.

In secondary schools, sports days are more likely to be based on conventional track and field athletic sports, and are more serious and competitive in nature than their primary school counterparts. This is especially the case in private schools, where different houses within the school may compete against one another.

Sports days may be attended by parents and other relatives of the participating pupils. In most cases, parents will sit on the sidelines as spectators; some schools, however, include "mothers and fathers" races in which parents may participate. Some schools hold intramural sports days in which competitions are between schools rather than between houses, though this is less common.

Adult events

There are now a number of organisations which offer sports days for adults, either as corporate team building exercises, or as nostalgic events in the same vein as the school disco theme nights held by many UK nightclubs. Actors may be hired to play teachers with comically exaggerated personalities and mannerisms.


There have been a number of controversies surrounding school sports days in recent years, many of which have been publicised by the media.

Some schools have abolished or heavily altered sports days on the grounds that they are too competitive and may damage pupils' self esteem - this often reflects the schools' attitude towards competitive sports or competitiveness in general. This view has been condemned as "political correctness" by many commentators, notably by journalist Melanie Phillips in her 1996 book "All Must Have Prizes".

In June 2005, Country Life magazine published a report claiming that school sports days have become excessively competitive due to overbearing and "over-zealous" parents, who place too much pressure on their children to succeed. The report also revealed that many schools have banned "mothers and fathers" races due to fighting and cheating.

Since the mid 1990s, a number of schools and education authorities have banned photography and filming with video cameras at sports days and other school events. Some authorities cite general privacy issues as justification for the ban; others have raised concerns about paedophiles, which in turn has sparked accusations of hysteria and moral panic. Many parents have expressed anger at being unable to take photographs or videos as souvenirs of these events, and the ban has been criticised by some as a paranoid over-reaction to public concerns about paedophilia and child safety issues.


Sports days are often a week-long event at Japanese schools. Preparation typically begins on a Monday and continues until Saturday, with the sports day being held on the Sunday. During the week preceding the sports day, students have no regular classes, but practice their events throughout each day, culminating in a full dress-rehearsal the day before the event, which often includes performances by the school band and presentations by various school clubs as well as individual and group competitive events. These practices, and the sports days themselves, normally take place on the schools' fields, which provide little relief from the heat and sun.

Some schools have responded by scheduling their sports days during cooler months and by encouraging their students to drink water regularly. Currently, the event occurs most often in the autumn (September to October), and next often in the spring (May to early June). In primary schools in Hokkaidō, the event is usually held between the latter part of May and the earlier part of June.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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