My Response to “Level the playing field for school sports”

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I got a little offended reading this article today. As a Singapore Sports School Alumni, I can honestly say that my 6 years in the Singapore Sports School was not easy. Imagine training 25-30 hours a week (not 18-20 hours) and balancing studies at the same time, that is the amount of sacrifice that we have to go through in our lives as a student in the Sports School.

I agree that we are given a choice to defer our studies for sports, but only a small amount of students do that, the majority still balances both sports and studies, and some of them even do their O levels during Secondary 4.

After sacrificing so much time in their respective sports in the Sports School, some students still take their O levels at Secondary 4. Is that fair for them? Should MOE be aware of this issue, and level the ‘playing’ field for Sports School students and have a different ‘tier’ for calculating O level results?

Instead of procrastinating, students in the Sports School were still able to get distinctions for their O levels despite sacrificing so much of their time on sports.

So what is your excuse now?

Of course, I give credit to the Sports School for instilling us great values of Excellence and Resilience which had made us who we are today.

 

It’s never a level playing field

Student athletes like us in the Singapore Sports School train hard in hope of getting a medal in the Olympic Games. Yet, when we meet countries like USA, France and Australia, we realize that it isn’t a level playing field anymore. When Singaporeans compete into the Olympic Games, it’s often quite impossible to get into the finals in the Games. Of course we do have a few outstanding athletes that made it to the finals before but what are the chances? So, does that mean that there is a huge psychological impact on us?

From what you’re suggesting, we should also write in to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider updating the format of Olympics, this means that countries like USA, France, Australia and China should all be in one tier and Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand should be in another.

If that were to be the proposed format, will there still be meaning to competition anymore? Every competition to me is a learning experience. We learn from the best and be inspired to train harder in hope to become like them one day.

 

“The psychological impact of such huge losses cannot be underestimated”

Honestly, coming from a national athlete’s perspective, I’ve lost a lot in international races, not being able to even make it to the semi finals of the World Championships. I’ve even experienced finishing last place in my heat for an international race.

But has this caused a huge psychological impact on me?

NO, it did not. In fact, these losses inspired me to train even harder and be able to match up to those great names one day. That is what sport is actually all about, it teaches you values of sportsmanship and not giving up even though it may seem impossible to achieve. And through these experiences I’ve learnt values such as “hard work”, “how to pick yourself up when you fail” and it has made me a stronger person.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

 

IF YOU CAN’T WIN US, JOIN US!

Lastly, if you want to win so badly, why don’t you consider sending your children to the Singapore Sports School, nobody is stopping you! We’ve got:

1)      A training schedule of 25-30 hours a week without neglecting academics

2)      Annual overseas competitions

3)      Sports Nutritionist

4)      Professional Strength Trainers

5)      Great Facilities

6)      Bio-Mechanic Professionals

7)      Responsible teachers that will ensure that you will always be able to catch up in academics despite the overseas competitions (http://bit.ly/ssp10anniversary)

And also, we have fun in whatever we are doing! The Sports School has definitely left unforgettable memories and taught me great values in life which made me who I am today, and I am grateful for all their support.

 

Pang Sheng Jun

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4 Replies to “My Response to “Level the playing field for school sports””

  1. Hi Sheng Jun, came across this article of yours and I felt I should offer some of my opinions concerning this issue. As my sister is from Singapore Sports School as well, topics concerning the school generally pique my interest.

    Firstly, I would like to say that the league tier format proposed in the newspaper forum actually sounds like quite a good idea! Not only would stronger teams be able to have opponents who present a greater challenge, the weaker teams would also not be too disheartened should they lose to superior opponents by a huge margin. As someone who has experience in coaching school teams and having had the opportunity to work closely with young students, I firmly believe that sports in schools is a means of imparting important life lessons. It is a regrettable but undeniable fact that some schools have more resources or have students who are more skilled in certain sports than other schools. Besides, the league tier format offers a system of relegation/promotion, similar to football leagues around the world, whereby teams who do well in the 2nd tier can move to the top tier, vice versa. This system creates an incentive for schools to continuously maintain their good standards while also aspiring to progress. Speaking of progress, if the Sports School continues to dominate in the domestic schools sports scene (although in recent years it has actually become less so), it would get rather boring no? Here’s a quote from one of my favourite youth coaches, Liverpool FC academy manager, Alex Inglethorpe, “Football should be fun, but you have to feel a sense of progress from time to time otherwise you can become stale.” Similarly, students, teachers and coaches from Sports School should aim to pursue this coveted form of “progress” in order to improve, which I doubt can be achieved from participating in the domestic school sports scene. Moreover, students in Sports School are being primed to become future national athletes, putting them in a different league from students from mainstream schools altogether.

    Secondly, I hope you do not feel offended by the letters to the Straits Times Forum. On the contrary, you should be proud! The general public and parents in particular, are recognising the hard work and effort put in by Sports School students. They see that your ability and commitment have resulted in the Sports School gaining a huge advantage over mainstream schools when it comes to your niche area, sports! However, I do agree that branding students from Sports School as having an “unfair advantage” is using unnecessarily strong language. This is because the aim of the Singapore Sports School is to provide a conducive environment for STUDENT-ATHLETES to grow and mature, balancing both academia and sports. That being said, your comparison to the Olympics does not hold either, because the athletes competing on this international arena are all professional athletes representing their country. (Of course there are some who are semi-professional but that is another issue for another day). There are insufficient parallels between a little-known domestic schools sports scene and a major international sporting event to even consider making a viable comparison.

    Finally, I acknowledge the sacrifices you have made in choosing to be a student in Sports School. It is definitely far from easy, I see this with my own eyes every week, when my sister comes home late at night on Fridays after training, only to have to rush back to school again early on Sunday night. Not only is your time devoted to training and academics, family time is cut desperately short as well. However, this is a choice you knowingly make and unfortunately, it is a price you have to pay to pursue success in your chosen field of excellence. It is impossible to compare “sacrifices” and it is immature (in fact, even a little close-minded), to quantify your sacrifice as greater than others’. Each person’s sacrifice is his/her own to determine, and not for you to judge. It is heartwarming and gratifying to hear that Sports School students have excelled in both their sports and studies (as you stated), but it is important to bear in mind that perhaps for some, excellence in these 2 areas is sometimes not measured by purely results. For example, for some students with no prior experience, learning how to sail and understanding more about the various intricate technicalities of sailing may already be an achievement in itself. I hope that while the Sports School has instilled in you the values of excellence and resilience, it has also taught you the nuance of compassion and understanding behind the definition of excellence.

    I do wish you all the best in your future sporting pursuits and hope you continue to do Singapore proud!

    Firstly, I would like to say that the league tier format proposed in the newspaper forum actually sounds like quite a good idea! Not only would stronger teams be able to have opponents who present a greater challenge, the weaker teams would also not be too disheartened should they lose to superior opponents by a huge margin. As someone who has experience in coaching school teams and having had the opportunity to work closely with young students, I firmly believe that sports in schools is a means of imparting important life lessons. It is a regrettable but undeniable fact that some schools have more resources or have students who are more skilled in certain sports than other schools. Besides, the league tier format offers a system of relegation/promotion, similar to football leagues around the world, whereby teams who do well in the 2nd tier can move to the top tier, vice versa. This system creates an incentive for schools to continuously maintain their good standards while also aspiring to progress. Speaking of progress, if the Sports School continues to dominate in the domestic schools sports scene (although in recent years it has actually become less so), it would get rather boring no? Here’s a quote from one of my favourite youth coaches, Liverpool FC academy manager, Alex Inglethorpe, “Football should be fun, but you have to feel a sense of progress from time to time otherwise you can become stale.” Similarly, students, teachers and coaches from Sports School should aim to pursue this coveted form of “progress” in order to improve, which I doubt can be achieved from participating in the domestic school sports scene. Moreover, students in Sports School are being primed to become future national athletes, putting them in a different league from students from mainstream schools altogether.

    Secondly, I hope you do not feel offended by the letters to the Straits Times Forum. On the contrary, you should be proud! The general public and parents in particular, are recognising the hard work and effort put in by Sports School students. They see that your ability and commitment have resulted in the Sports School gaining a huge advantage over mainstream schools when it comes to your niche area, sports! However, I do agree that branding students from Sports School as having an “unfair advantage” is using unnecessarily strong language. This is because the aim of the Singapore Sports School is to provide a conducive environment for STUDENT-ATHLETES to grow and mature, balancing both academia and sports. That being said, your comparison to the Olympics does not hold either, because the athletes competing on this international arena are all professional athletes representing their country. (Of course there are some who are semi-professional but that is another issue for another day). There are insufficient parallels between a little-known domestic schools sports scene and a major international sporting event to even consider making a viable comparison.

    Finally, I acknowledge the sacrifices you have made in choosing to be a student in Sports School. It is definitely far from easy, I see this with my own eyes every week, when my sister comes home late at night on Fridays after training, only to have to rush back to school again early on Sunday night. Not only is your time devoted to training and academics, family time is cut desperately short as well. However, this is a choice you knowingly make and unfortunately, it is a price you have to pay to pursue success in your chosen field of excellence. It is impossible to compare “sacrifices” and it is immature (in fact, even a little close-minded), to quantify your sacrifice as greater than others’. Each person’s sacrifice is his/her own to determine, and not for you to judge. It is heartwarming and gratifying to hear that Sports School students have excelled in both their sports and studies (as you stated), but it is important to bear in mind that perhaps for some, excellence in these 2 areas is sometimes not measured by purely results. For example, for some students with no prior experience, learning how to sail and understanding more about the various intricate technicalities of sailing may already be an achievement in itself. I hope that while the Sports School has instilled in you the values of excellence and resilience, it has also taught you the nuance of compassion and understanding behind the definition of excellence.

    I do wish you all the best in your future sporting pursuits and hope you continue to do Singapore proud!

    Firstly, I would like to say that the league tier format proposed in the newspaper forum actually sounds like quite a good idea! Not only would stronger teams be able to have opponents who present a greater challenge, the weaker teams would also not be too disheartened should they lose to superior opponents by a huge margin. As someone who has experience in coaching school teams and having had the opportunity to work closely with young students, I firmly believe that sports in schools is a means of imparting important life lessons. It is a regrettable but undeniable fact that some schools have more resources or have students who are more skilled in certain sports than other schools. Besides, the league tier format offers a system of relegation/promotion, similar to football leagues around the world, whereby teams who do well in the 2nd tier can move to the top tier, vice versa. This system creates an incentive for schools to continuously maintain their good standards while also aspiring to progress. Speaking of progress, if the Sports School continues to dominate in the domestic schools sports scene (although in recent years it has actually become less so), it would get rather boring no? Here’s a quote from one of my favourite youth coaches, Liverpool FC academy manager, Alex Inglethorpe, “Football should be fun, but you have to feel a sense of progress from time to time otherwise you can become stale.” Similarly, students, teachers and coaches from Sports School should aim to pursue this coveted form of “progress” in order to improve, which I doubt can be achieved from participating in the domestic school sports scene. Moreover, students in Sports School are being primed to become future national athletes, putting them in a different league from students from mainstream schools altogether.

    Secondly, I hope you do not feel offended by the letters to the Straits Times Forum. On the contrary, you should be proud! The general public and parents in particular, are recognising the hard work and effort put in by Sports School students. They see that your ability and commitment have resulted in the Sports School gaining a huge advantage over mainstream schools when it comes to your niche area, sports! However, I do agree that branding students from Sports School as having an “unfair advantage” is using unnecessarily strong language. This is because the aim of the Singapore Sports School is to provide a conducive environment for STUDENT-ATHLETES to grow and mature, balancing both academia and sports. That being said, your comparison to the Olympics does not hold either, because the athletes competing on this international arena are all professional athletes representing their country. (Of course there are some who are semi-professional but that is another issue for another day). There are insufficient parallels between a little-known domestic schools sports scene and a major international sporting event to even consider making a viable comparison.

    Finally, I acknowledge the sacrifices you have made in choosing to be a student in Sports School. It is definitely far from easy, I see this with my own eyes every week, when my sister comes home late at night on Fridays after training, only to have to rush back to school again early on Sunday night. Not only is your time devoted to training and academics, family time is cut desperately short as well. However, this is a choice you knowingly make and unfortunately, it is a price you have to pay to pursue success in your chosen field of excellence. It is impossible to compare “sacrifices” and it is immature (in fact, even a little close-minded), to quantify your sacrifice as greater than others’. Each person’s sacrifice is his/her own to determine, and not for you to judge. It is heartwarming and gratifying to hear that Sports School students have excelled in both their sports and studies (as you stated), but it is important to bear in mind that perhaps for some, excellence in these 2 areas is sometimes not measured by purely results. For example, for some students with no prior experience, learning how to sail and understanding more about the various intricate technicalities of sailing may already be an achievement in itself. I hope that while the Sports School has instilled in you the values of excellence and resilience, it has also taught you the nuance of compassion and understanding behind the definition of excellence.

    I do wish you all the best in your future sporting pursuits and hope you continue to do Singapore proud!

  2. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve read something like this before.
    So wonderful to find another person with a few original thoughts
    on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up.
    This website is something that is required on the web, someone
    with some originality!

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