(From ifeng) Kids in China are forced to relate to sports in one way or another. Some of them maximize physical training so that they can count on sports to earn a living in the future, the rest has to minimize exercise intensity to focus on passing exams and getting into better schools. These two extreme attitudes towards sports constitute unique Chinese characteristic physical education.
PE schools in China are just like assembly line, mass-producing generations after generations of sportsmen as gold medal snapping machines. Many parents nowadays still send their children into PE schools either because they are too busy to foster children’s self-discipline or counting on kids to realize their own gold medal dream.
Children who are only 4 – 7 years old are kept in the training room to practice running, leg pressing, hand standing, bouncing and balancing day after day,which is deemed to be the only way leading up to gold medal dream. Thus, they are repeating tedious exercises rather than enjoying their colorful childhood. These children are admitted to PE school at the age of 4, but 90% of them won’t make it into the province team to become professionals, then mostly like they will find it difficult again to fit in normal schools.
To live up to the country’s glory and their parents’ pride, the innocent children become tools. Can any parents cross their heart and say that they send the children to PE school for such cruel training because their little ones are actually enthusiastic about weigh lifting or gymnastics?
When a Chinese sportsman steps on the highest stand and receives applauses and flash lights like a hero, do people realize the saying that a general’s reputation is built upon sacrifices of tens of thousands of soldiers? Behind Yang Wei (Olympic gold medalist for all-around gymnastics) and Xing Aowei (Olympic gold medalist and becomes coach of national gymnastic team at 23), there are thousands of Zhang Shangwu (photo above, he entered national team at 12 but returned to local team 7 years later without making it to any world game due to tendon injury; in 2007, he was sentenced 4 years jail time for stealing in the PE school; earlier this year he was seen performing and begging on the street.)
Nonetheless, going professional to realize world champion dream is not yet mainstream. To the other extreme, there are a lot more parents hoping their kids to behave and study hard in school. For these kids, PE plays a totally different role.
The most frequently practiced sports is radio gymnastic exercise that takes about 10 minutes out of their busy study routine. For these gymnastic exercise, children are just perfunctory stretching a little bit, then go back to classroom to bury themselves in books, hardly warm up.
However, even the simple 10 minutes exercise of the day can be challenging for some students. In Licheng experimental primary school, 1300 out of 2200 students in the school have to take the exercise out to the street since their playground is only big enough to hold 900 students.
Some creative schools manage to play popular sports like football and basketball in a much safer way – the unprecedented football and basketball gymnastics. Finally our kids get to do some real sports, only we play it gymnastically, and there is not much game in it.
In a recent transnational football match between Chinese and Russian kids, the Chinese school team which prides themselves for football training lost the game by 0 – 15 while being generally 3 years older than their Russian opponents. The principal of the school said sighed during interview: nowadays the most important principle for primary school PE class is accident free; facilities like parallel bars, box horse have been taken away long time ago, even shot putting is canceled after one dropping on a student’s feet. He said: “no matter how many gold medals our country gets, it is meaningless because it can’t represent the overall physical condition of the people.”
Maybe Chinese students can’t never really taste the happiness and youthfulness of doing sports as long as our PE attitude goes unchanged. The two extremes of our PE practice for the young generation is the biggest shame on China sports.
(The above content is completely translated from ifeng and does not represent the opinion and standpoint of the writer or the site.)