Put Me In Coach
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, this Friday at my school marks the great American, elementary school pasttime.
That my friends is none other than field day.
Chances are if you grew up as an average child living in an equally average neighborhood, you dug field day. After all, this is usually every kid's dream to finally release all the energy they've been told to bottle in the whole year. Just like movie trailer previews, if you were going to miss one day of school this year, this would not be the one to miss.
Then there were the kids like me. We dreaded field day. Mainly this is because we were of the "if you can't be an athlete, be an athletic support" school of thought. Only we like to give our support from underneath a shady tree, far, far away from the action, thank you very much.
My feelings on field day can be best expressed by something the great singer James Ingram once said, I gave my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough. I tried, I tried, and I tried...but everybody wanted to put me down. They said I was going crazy.
For me, field day was just an extension of all the things I couldn't do all year long in gym, only here they had come to life via color wars and the beating down of the unbearable heat. If I had played kickball with five friends in the cul de sac I wouldn't have nearly as much anxiety. Even everyday gym class didn't cause that much stress. At least then the kids got to, no matter how painful a process, choose their teams. With field day, all bets were off. It was like Survivor only this time nobody could be voted off the island. You were stuck there for the whole tour. A three hour tour.
Field day differs greatly though depending on where and when you go to school. For instance, field day is fun for nearly everyone (except maybe pollen sufferers) in first grade and for most in third. But by the time you get to fifth grade, field day can de downright degrading. By this time, the sides have been chosen, on and off the field. You don't color outside the lines in fifth grade. The battle lines have been drawn. This is my dance space, that's your dance space.
Field day also is different depending on where you live. I grew up in an uptight suburban neighborhood where kids (and their parents) were competitive about everything from grades, to name brand Gatorade to everything in between.
Nowadays I notice not all that much has changed about field day, only more and more kids have joined my way of thinking. It's weird. Kids today just don't like being outside, period. It's too hot. It's too cold. There's nothing to do. Can I just have detention? What is wrong with these kids anyway?!
No if I suffered my way through field day, so must they. Field day is a rite of passage. It's the chariots of fire of the preteen set. I say, what doesn't kill them will make them stronger.
Besides, it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you avoid playing the game.