School kids hate XC - or do they?

Posted in The Sweat by Matt Ward on Fri 21 Nov '08


Bless em...

A recent report on the Guardian website states that school children in China are just as reluctant to get out there and run as the youngsters of the Western world.

To combat growing obesity problems the authorities have taken measures to ensure that cross country running is now part of the weekly curriculum. According to the news machine, “Schools have been ordered to take their pupils for a jog every day until the end of April.” It goes on to state that Ya Wei of the Da He newspaper felt that the measures fell short of what was needed, “I think for a student running 60km in a winter is not too much, but too little.”

The Chinese authorities of the past would perhaps echo Mr. Wei’s expressiveness, however in today’s brave new world even the eastern super-power is becoming a little more liberal it seems with complaints from parents and children abound – sound familiar?


Now that looks like a mis-match!

Now, far be it our place to pontificate on here about the health and weight issues that face the world’s youngsters over the next 20 years, but we think its a good idea to get kids out running, or doing any sport for that matter.

Let’s be clear, when kids actually get out there they love it – its probably the thought of doing it that is the biggest hurdle for many. In my childhood I didn’t have the distractions and home entertainment comforts that kids enjoy today, so dragging them away from the Wii or Bebo is all that much harder. I see plenty of hope in the two cross country leagues that I run in (Chiltern and North Wales) and the junior races are always very well attended, with huge fields in the Chiltern series. But this is club athletics, not school sport, and it’s here where the debate will run and run.

© epost

Best days of our lives...

Compulsory school cross country – I’ll leave it for others to debate and here at MST we will nail our flag to the freedom of choice mast. However, running when you are young has countless benefits and if you make it funky, kids will dance to your tune…

Reactions so far
  1. Jason Nov 24, 01:26 AM

    I was never much of a runner when I was younger (some would still say that!) but looking back on it now I can see why not. We used to run around the local field in circles, around and around… and to be honest it was bloody boring.

    I think if there had of been an interesting change of venue, like the park or forrest trail it would have been much more interesting and I would have been more inclined to keep with it. Of course It could also have been because of the coaches lack of imagination too… or am I being too harsh?!

  2. MST Nov 24, 03:02 AM

    Good point regarding the terrain. 3 laps of the football pitches was about the size of it. What do you think about the competitive side of it? I mean are kids really driven to compete with one another as they once were?

  3. Jason Nov 25, 02:53 AM

    Breeding Competition… well I’m pretty new to the running scene but as a coach of kids hockey we coach kids to hopefully be great players but also to participate in the sport until they are still able to run / hobble well into their 50’s!

    Theres two sides to it:
    1) the coaches and parents who hurl abuse if little jonny isn’t performing well and encourage them to show no quarter to the opposition or their team mates if they too aren’t competing hard enough.

    2) the coaches and parents who are always encouraging a childs best effort regardless of the score or opposition. Then recognising a childs good performance, learning lessons and building on this to achieve a better performance next time.

    There are two ways each of the above options can turn out:

    1a) Some kid’s excel and become great players although they tend to play with anger and will ultimately leave the sport at a relatively young age maybe because of frustration at a teams underperformance if going through a bad patch, or they find themselves not being able to compete at a level that is now acceptable to them. They have their own kids and start the cycle again!

    1b) They quit when the first opportunity of doing something else comes along.

    2a) Some kid’s excel and become great players. Even when they get older they still play at some level. Later they participate in other aspects of the sport like coaching, umpiring, club admin because they have a pashion for the sport and want to give something back.

    2b) They realise that they are never going to be elite athletes but love the sport and the encouraging / fun environment so they play at some level and even give back to the sport in other ways. Or they leave the sport at a young age but have respect for it and would involve their kids in the future.

    Kinda talked around your question, but there you go…

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