Isn’t it time to stop teaching sport to children?

Isn’t it time to stop teaching children sport?

It is drug-addled, corrupt, nationalistic, sectarian, sexist, homophobic and brings out the very worst in people. Why on earth do we presume it is something suitable for children to participate in?

From time to time I am asked to comment on calls from one secularist group or another who want to get rid of religion in schools or who want access to Thought For The Day. Often religion is dismissed as something that children should be protected from. But why don’t the secularists turn their attention to sport if they really want to protect children? Surely 3 minutes of Thought for the Day is considerably less harmful than the priviledged access that sport gets to every news broadcast in the world. Sport seems to have become a religion anyway but where is the organised opposition?

There have still been more Anglican bishops in the world who have come out than premier level footballers. The fear that sport can induce in young LGBT people can last a lifetime. For their sake shouldn’t we just say “No” to activities that can cause so much harm?

I want boys and girls to learn that they are equal but I look at men and women’s sporting rewards and dispair. What hope is there for girls’ self esteem whilst they are constantly exposed to sport?

The city I live in is blighted by sport centred sectarianism and still the violence is encouraged by co-opting children at a very young age in school. Why do they make football compulsory for boys? Why? How are decent parents supposed to keep their children from such negative and corrupting activities? You have a right to remove your children from religious instruction but not from sport. Oh no,  not from sport.

I can see the point in teaching kids about heath and fitness. I can see the point of putting gyms in secondary schools and I can see the point of teaching all young people how to swim.  But the competitive, money dominated, cess-pit of professional sport is surely the last thing we need to encourage them to believe is a proper activity for adults.

Sermon preached on 8 November 2015

We stood at the top of the top of the hill looking down the Clyde looking past Bowling and on towards Dumbarton.

No ships. No boats. The slight eeriness of the empty estuary.

“And that’s where the fire was” she said. “The VE day fire”. And over there – behind the house, that must be where the shelter was.

Earlier this year, I had taken her on a bit of a nostalgia trip. We went back to Clydebank where she grew up and had a look around the house in which her family had lived. It is still there, something which seems remarkable in itself.

“That must be where the shelter was”. Something about that statement made me start to do the sums in my head to work out how old she was. “But you were only a baby”, I said. You’d been evacuated anyway.

“No I hadn’t” she said. “I was there. I was in the shelter all night. I was in the shelter and mum, your grandmother held me all night as the bombs were falling. Oh yes, I was there. I was only evacuated to Kilmarnock after that, when the town couldn’t be lived in.”

I have always been aware that every congregation that I have ever worked in has had people in it who had first-hand experience of war – both recent and in the past. However, I’d somehow never managed to clock the fact that my mother had been there when the bombs were falling. Quite how I’ve made it to nearly 50 without knowing that, I don’t know. But sometimes stories about war come back long after the event and it isn’t unusual I guess to simply not talk about what had happened.

“Well, who else was there then?” I asked. [Read more…]