LUCY doesn’t do PE. She tells the teacher she has period pain, and if she isn’t excused she skives for the afternoon. Jack won’t get changed in front of his friends. Every Tuesday at break time he slips into a toilet cubicle to put on his T-shirt and jogging bottoms in private. Sarah represents the school in cross-country running, and her shorts don’t quite cover the cutting scars on her thighs. Greg is star striker on the football team, but he tenses up any time his team-mates rush to celebrate one of his goals.
It’s exposing, playing sport: not just physically, but psychologically too. It’s not like any other school lesson or extracurricular activity. The changing of clothes, the exposed skin, the scraped knees, the bumped heads – it’s a lot more risky and less predictable than the controlled environment of a school orchestra, chess club or after-school art group. But the risks must be weighed up against the potential rewards, and the wealth of opportunities for adults to make meaningful connections with young people.
The column was published in The National on December 8 2017. Read the rest at thenational.scot