Sports Day… sort of…

My school is enormous and so we only have Sports Days once every two years.  This year was the lucky year.  The kids were beside themselves, and the teachers were frantic.  Every inch of the school (except inexplicably, the bathrooms) was gleaming, the grounds had been groomed, the white lines on the track had been freshly chalked, tents had been erected for parents and visiting dignitaries – everything was ready for the Big Day.

The day had been divided into two Sports Days – Grades 1, 2 and 3 were in the morning, and Grades 4, 5, and 6 were in the afternoon.  Since all the teachers were involved in the running of Sports Day, the children who weren’t on the field had the run of the school.  I think they were supposed to be sitting quietly at their desks studying, but of course it was absolute mayhem.

Sports Day started out with the school orchestra playing the national anthem and school song.


Then there was a warm up.  The recording was obviously very old, and very well used.  Even the grandparents in the crowd knew all the moves.


I settled in for the usual races, relays, and long jumps.  I wondered if they did three-legged races and eggs tosses in Korea…  My first indication that this Sports Day would be a little different than Sports Days in Canada came during the first event.  What kind of sport was this?

IMG_0223The second event was even more random:


The school had hired a Master of Ceremonies for the day.  Apparently Sports Days were this man’s entire life.  He hosted a different school’s sports day every day.  Imagine?  I think I’d shoot myself.


The MC handing out prizes to the parents: pine toothpaste.

Finally there was an event I recognized: the 50m dash.  I was hustled over to the finish line and given a stamp.

IMG_4429I was to stamp the hand of every student in every race who came in second place. It seemed easy enough.  I watched as the first group of children came meandering down the track.  (Being in grade 1, they were more concerned with waving at their Moms than winning.)  I grabbed the kid who had come in second and stamped his hand.  Satisfied with myself, I re-inked my stamp and turned back to the finish line.

And realized that 2 other groups of children had come in.

I did try very hard to stamp the appropriate child but it was difficult.  The children were all short, and all wore the same blue uniform.  A new group crossed the finish line about every 20 seconds, and the children who had finished didn’t move off to the side as they were meant to, in spite of my best efforts.  It was a bit like herding cats.

After a while, I just started grabbing random hands and stamping them.  Nobody seemed surprised so either I was incredibly lucky or they didn’t know who had come in second either.

A happy customer.

A happy customer.


The next event involved enormous balls.  This didn’t seem like a particularly good idea to me.  The kids couldn’t see where they were going so practically every team ran into each other, and then everyone cried.


The older grades fared a bit better with the big balls but I couldn’t figure out the point of the game.


The older grades had a few events I recognized – running races, obstacle races, and a sac race.

IMG_0660 IMG_0572

And then this.  What on earth?

IMG_0498 IMG_0500

Throughout the day the score was kept by two of my co-Ts.


The kids didn’t seem to mind the heat but the teachers were all bundled up against the sun.


And at the end of the day, the school security guard wanted his picture taken with me. Perhaps he’d heard the kids calling me Superstar Carrie. 😀



About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in ex-pat, Korea, Korean schools, Life, Living abroad, teaching in Korea, Travel, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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