Greater preparation needed for School Athletics

Schools’ athletics competitions are known for attracting more than just students. Even the students who come from other schools often present themselves not as students but as general members of the public and seek to behave in much the same way as some of the more unsavoury characters in our society.
Some students attend the athletics competitions with weapons in their possession seeking out their ‘opponents’ with whom to engage in battle. Others carry alcohol beverages and a range of illegal substances with them for use during the day, often losing control before the competition ends.
Principals, concerned for the students in their charge, have found it necessary to request the services of the security forces to assist in addressing the aforementioned problems that so often surface at their events. It is unfortunate that it is often the case that rather than involve the police in the entire planning process the authorities at our schools wait until a few days before competition to request four or five officers. This is woefully inadequate and we must be forever grateful that more incidents of violence do not take place at these events since the police would be outnumbered.
Police must be brought into the planning early enough to advise the authorities on their security needs.

Training and competition
Over the past few years we have seen much decline in the performances of the majority of students. This relates directly to declining involvement in sport by students at an early age.
The VH1 and BET culture have generated greater interest in early sexual activities and girls appear far more interested in ‘dressing up’ for their male counterparts rather than become involved in sport as a healthy activity with a variety of career options.
There are fewer students accompanying the PE teachers onto the playing fields after the official end of the school day. Fewer students are walking to and from school. Instead they are being driven and become accustomed, very early, to a lifestyle that leaves them as young ‘couch potatoes’.
Those who do train for the school’s sports perform significantly better than their counterparts in the same institution and one has to wait until the annual Inter Schools competition to see true competition. There is a sense in which there seems to be a loss of pride in one’s school. Of course one has grown accustomed to seeing more students dressed in casual clothing traipsing the Arnos Vale driveway than t
here are in competition clothing on the inside on the day of Inter Schools competition.
PE teachers complain about their growing inability to attract the students to train for success and this despite the Caribbean’s shift to making PE an official examinable subject at the regional level.
The net result is often an Inter Schools athletics competition with a few athletes at varying levels of preparation performing in what may well be merely an annual ritual for them while attending school.

Evaluation
At the conclusion of any school’s sports day it is imperative that a comprehensive evaluation exercise be engaged in by all concerned.
Once the evaluation exercise is completed planning begins for the following year. This allows for a systematic approach to be taken and greater promotion and participation should result.
School authorities must realise that the preparation for their annual sports competitions require as detailed planning as the academic aspects of their work. If PE is part of the official education programme at the respective schools in the State it is important that it be treated as such and this means detailed planning and preparation.
We could generate greater interest and participation by all stakeholders – students, parents, and teachers – and produce what amounts to an annual exhibition of the skill competencies in this vital area of school life – sports. We all stand to benefit in the long run.