COLUMN: Egg and spoon politics is hurting our sport

Crispin Andrews
Crispin Andrews

Last week a disgruntled friend of mine had a Facebook whinge about his daughter’s school sports day.

Apparently, the school had removed the egg and spoon race from the event in case any children were allergic to eggs.

The health and safety mafia loomed large enough for these particular teachers to get their cardigans in a twist, but then again, there always seems to be a lot more to the good old primary school sports day than kids having fun and doing a bit of sport.

Earlier this summer, teachers in Stranraer, Scotland, came up with a way to get all their kids involved in sports day, embrace Britain’s Olympic legacy and put some actual sport into their school’s sports day.

Their idea was to hold an Olympic themed sports day with qualifying rounds, heats and finals.

The result? Outrage, righteous indignation. Such an elitist event would ruin children’s self esteem and encourage bullying, it was claimed.

Just to confuse matters, though, last year, Prime Minister, David Cameron said: ‘I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools.

“We need to end the “all must have prizes” culture and get children playing and enjoying competitive sports from a young age.”

Mr Cameron insisted upon proper sports, too. Not trendy exercise classes in Indian dancing.

Maybe the International Olympic Committee are considering Egg and Spoon for Rio 2016.

A few weeks ago, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Child Protection in Sport Unit suggested schools use recruitment procedures for sports day volunteers and conduct thorough risk assessments for their events.

They also want sports day volunteers to produce employment histories, references and the relevant technical qualifications.

Last year, a Wiltshire school insisted that parents who wanted to watch their kids take part had to take County Council criminal records bureau checks.

What’s next?

Jack-booted teachers demanding visitors produce their ‘Papers’? Passport or driving license, and two utility bills to bring in your kid’s PE kit, if they forget it?

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l Crispin Andrews is an Aylesbury-based writer and journalist.

He writes for the Cricketer, Four Four Two, Inside Cricket, Readers Digest, Flipside and Engineering and Technology Magazine.

He has played cricket locally for 25 years, including stints at Aylesbury Town, Tring Park, Dinton & Buckingham Town.

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