It Wasn't until Ben Field's Dad Fell, Halfway through the Fathers' Race Last Year, That I Realised

Sunday Mirror (London, England), July 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

It Wasn't until Ben Field's Dad Fell, Halfway through the Fathers' Race Last Year, That I Realised


Byline: Jane Gordon

that nothing - not the Olympics or Euro 2000 - offered as awesome a showcase for the human competitive spirit as the average annual school sports day.

I mention this because it's that time of year again and on Tuesday afternoon, "weather permitting" (as the chairwoman of the PTA put it in her rousing circular appealing for volunteers for the tea tent), I will find myself in the midst of another hideous display of parental one-up-man-and-woman-ship.

The competition is not, you see, limited to the 100 metres relay or the 50 metre sack race, it emerges in all sorts of different and unexpected ways.

Even if my son doesn't manage to win a medal (although after the training his father has put him through in the last three weeks he'd better), I will still have a chance of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Because although there is probably nothing that can swell a mother's chest (short of implants) in quite the way that the sight of her child breaking through the white ribbon does, it is the parents themselves who display the greatest desire to win on these occasions.

In fact, in many ways the children are incidental to the real business of the day - those events in which the mums and dads get to compete. This doesn't just involve the inevitable parents' races, it extends to a number of other important areas in which they can display superior parental prowess.

The first event of the day takes place in the car park where huge, new four-wheel drives with personalised number plates outperform the poor parents who have turned up in clapped out motors (or, worse, come by bus). …

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