Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Sports Day Training: A Teacher's Nightmare

Japanese kids and teachers really put an exorbitant amount of effort into preparing and training for Sports Day.  Sports Day is basically a day of track and field with some games and performances thrown in the mix to make it an all day event for parents to come and see.  Many members of the community, elders and city officials also usually show up for this event.  There is music, marching, class flags, a brass band, and many many sweaty and hot kids, parents and teachers moving around frantically to put on this all day long program.

Teachers take weeks to prepare for this day. For example this year my junior high Sports Day begins on June 6th but preparation for it began back in April.  Teachers, especially PE teachers and homeroom teachers are running at full pace two weeks before the even begins.  Training is every day for at least 2 hours for each grade level.  The final week kids and teachers do one full day practice, and then several rehearsals thereafter before the big day.  So by the time the full day event comes everyone is completely on board with the program. Kids are trained and drilled to step and march in time, to sit, walk, and move synchronously and to keep things flowing smoothly and fluidly.  It's on par with something you'd see out of the North Korean military!

It is an intense, exhausting time and typically the sun zaps away your energy, burns you to a crisp and leaves you feeling lethargic and out of commission.  The really fun thing is after the sports day, teachers usually gather for a beer drinking binge to throw away the stress.  I've done this for about 15 years and at first I thought it was a complete waste of time, but over time I realize it has merits for Japanese society and I think that is why many in Japan hold on to Sports Day as a cultural and ideological asset.  But man does it suck and make you exhausted!


Samuel said...

I love your page. I am a PE teacher and it is my wish to have my children perform the 'human climbing' activity as seen on your page. Please how do I teach this? Thanks.

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