Sports Day

Last semester, sports day was cancelled at my school because of the Sewol Ferry Disaster. For those who don’t know, a ferry carrying mostly high school students sunk, killing most on board. Because mostly students died, schools across the nation cancelled festivals and school trips for remembrance and solidarity (and, yes, fear). Chris’ school trips were cancelled but he had a sports day. My school trips started that morning (before anyone knew what had happened) but the sports day was cancelled later.

Somehow now we got to have a sports day in the second semester.

Here’s my whole school lined up by grade and class. Starting with the yellow line at the far right is 1st grade. The gap is the beginning of second grade (pink line is the end). The next line is the 3rd grade with a massive space between boys and girls (go figure.) The first grade didn’t put any space between them and the boys. Maybe they’re still used to mixed classes from elementary school.

Most classes bought matching shirts, if not matching outfits.


The boys usually had some variation of a track uniform. Some boys wore pink hoodies over track pants, others had matching tshirts. 2 1st grade boys classes either didn’t get the memo or didn’t care and just wore their standard PE uniform.

The girls, of course, got really into it. Most had full matching outfits.

The first graders went for more pajama looking outfits. Universe prints, Baggy elmo tshirts, Frozen tshirts with floral pants.

Here are all the second grade girls.



Third grade is a pretty small class. There are only 3 girls classes (second grade has 5 girls classes!). All three classes were awesome. 3-1 wore Brazil uniforms with their names printed in English on the back. 3-2 wore full Hanbok! The traditional Korean dress – they had some cheep-y version of it that they ran, jumped, and competed in. Then 3-3 (I’m not gonna play favorites but they are so much fun to have in class) wore what I would expect. Full animal/monster costumes. No two girls were alike.

A Hanbok, a parrot, an alligator, a dragon and a Brazilian uniform


Here are the girls competing in their Hanboks. The boys in matching, simple sweatshirts are waiting for their turn to do tug of war



Here are penguins, birds, lady bugs, alligators, chickens, blue birds, dogs and a mongoose (no really, they assured me it was a mongoose costume and even came with a snake-prop) tug o’ warring.

DSC00874The day started with hours of opening ceremonies, bowing and clapping. I stayed indoors for most of it, honestly. Then they began competition for points. I have conflicting information. One person said the class with the most points wins $150, someone else said that’s not allowed and they would maybe just get a pizza. It’s supposed to up the ante.

The class competitions were all things that don’t exist in America, and if they did, they would be banned. They’re all a little “dangerous.”  There is one where all the students bend at the waist and a classmate runs along their backs. When they’re finished running on your back, you run to the front of the line and bend over again. The goal is to be a human road to a finish line. I don’t have pictures, sorry.

Then there are jump roping relays. The whole class has to jump over the jump rope as fast as they can. So people go in ones, then twos, threes, and then four people all jumping at once, then moving out of the way so the next group can jump. Many knees were skinned. Many people tripped.

Possibly the worst is a clothes-lining game. The students told me this one is the hardest/worst. There’s a string with a bar over it (already this sounds terrible). The first three in the line run with it to a cone. You go around the cone twice then run back.


On the way back the middle player drops the bar. The two on the ends run at their whole class. Everyone has to jump over the bar without getting pulled over by the bar or stopping the bar. Yes people get pushed and pulled over, knees were skinned and worse. When the whole class has jumped over it, everyone ducks. They run with the bar over the group and then hand it to the people in the front. You have to do this as many times as it takes to rotate through the whole class (about 35 people).DSC00861You want 3 legged race? How about 9 legged? Wait. I’m not sure how many legs. Basically there’s a foam board that has 6 holes in it. 6 people put one leg in each hole and race. I didn’t see the outcome of this one but I know there were loads of band aids.

It wasn’t all abrasions and awesome teamwork. Sometimes it was just incredible teamwork. Here’s a game that Americans could actually play without a lawsuit


It’s called About-20-people-work-together-to-bounce-a-ball-while-also-traveling-towards-the-finish-line. It’s not a catchy name. Seriously though, it’s a wooden platform with a bunch of strings coming off the sides. Everyone has to bounce it while coordinating walking towards a line. The wood isn’t bouncy, you actually have to pull the board up to make it bounce. So you have to work as a team to bounce and walk together.

After a whole bunch of that. We had tug o’ war, then lunch.

1st and 2nd grade girls did synchronized dancing (3rd grade students are too busy applying to high schools to coordinatedancing routines). All the first graders danced at the same time to the same song. The school used cameras and a helicopter camera (a small toy-ish helicopter) to film the groups. The PE teachers reviewed the footage to pick the winning team.



Here are the second grade students.



After that there was more tug o war, and relay races.

It was a very full day for them. I’m glad it’s over because they have been absolute messes lately, coordinating outfits and practicing their routines. Maybe tomorrow they will all be exhausted.


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