BY TIM MIDDLETON WEATHER patterns have certainly been changing over the years, as we have experienced throughout these last few months especially, here in Zimbabwe as well as around the world, but the fact remains that for all the climate change, we still have seasons. In most parts of the world, we still think of the cycle of seasons being those of winter, spring, summer, autumn (or fall) – four seasons in all. However, for many countries the experience is rather two seasons, being summer or winter.
One of the beauties of having seasons is that we appreciate them more by having their differences. Albert Camus, the French writer, noted that “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” He needed the one to appreciate the other.
This was a familiar cry to one that we find further back in time at the start of Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III’ which stated that “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York”.
Indeed, we can go much further back to find the concept outlined clearly, in the book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 3) when it was declared that “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun” before going on to highlight the many different necessary seasons.
The same principle certainly applies to school life – there is a time for everything. Winter, spring, summer, autumn may be seen as intellectual, cultural, physical and spiritual.
There is a time in each day for all of these (like some countries seem to have the weather of four seasons all in one day!) as well as in each week.
We would argue too that there is a season for different sports, so that children do not simply focus on one sport – again they will benefit in one sport by experiencing another.
We need to grasp too that it naturally follows that “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity” in sport, in each sporting situation. Children and indeed parents need to understand that there is a time to practise and a time to play fixtures (“a time to plant and a time to uproot”); there is a need to put what is learned in practice into a test.
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Similarly, there is a time to train and to rest (“a time to tear and a time to mend”); we cannot push and push our children harder and harder. Their bodies need time to rest and recover; muscles need time to rest in order to be stronger.
We can note further that in sport there is a time to tackle and to hold back (“a time for war and a time for peace”); good players will know that but our children need to learn it.
Similarly, there is a time to mark and a time to zone (“a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing”); as coaches we will ensure our players know and understand that.
So too must they learn that there is a time to pass and to shoot (“a time to keep and a time to throw away”) just as much as there is a time to defend and to attack (“a time to keep and a time to throw away”).
Then too there is a time to be serious and a time to have fun in sport (“a time to weep and a time to laugh”), especially at school.
These are all lessons our children need to learn in sport and then equally apply to life. More than anything perhaps, they (and parents) need to learn that there is a time to lose and to win (“a time to tear down and a time to build”); it is not and must not be a matter of winning all the time.
The difficulty we face in sport is that we are trying to eliminate the seasons, to elongate one season to cover the whole year. Every sport wants to be played throughout the whole year and every sport wants the talented youngsters to play one sport, their sport, all year, younger and younger all the time. We need to understand, especially at school level, that we need all the seasons.
Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s wife, recognised the value of each season when she said that “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” As someone else put it, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
There is another biblical principle whereby we are exhorted to learn to be content in every situation, in every season, be it plenty or little. School is about learning and our children need to learn to be content with different seasons of sports and of experiences.
There is a time for everything in sport as well as in life; we must make sure they have those seasons.
- Tim Middleton is a former international hockey player and headmaster, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Association of Trust Schools Email: email@example.com