February 25, 2004


England doesn’t win too often these days in international sports. Mark Steyn reveals one reason why:

A third of London schools play no competitive sports. Teachers are uncomfortable with the notion of an "opposing side" one must strive to "beat" - just as, in the war on terror, many grown-ups are uncomfortable with the notion of "the enemy": to the progressive mind, there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet fully acknowledged.

This sad country needs fixin'. Joanne Jacobs reports that a children's pancake race (it’s an English thing) was recently cancelled “when insurance premiums soared and risk assessors demanded 25 marshals for the 50-yard course.”

A tough love/zero tolerance/random killing policy may erase these problems. Here’s the man for the job.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 25, 2004 11:27 PM

On Kerry-Anne the other day they had a pancake race with school children and I can't recall seeing a marshall in sight. That's probably why we thrash them at cricket.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at February 25, 2004 at 11:47 PM

"risk assessors demanded"...for a pancake race?? Unless Michael Moore is stalking the racecourse what risks are involved? Pancake flipping elbow? egonomically-incorrect skillets?
Our church had its Shrove Tuesday pancake race last night with no lawyers or risk assessors needed and the kids loved it.

Posted by: BC at February 26, 2004 at 01:59 AM

"England doesn’t win too often these days in international sports."

Christ you've got short memories down there. Rugby...Wilkinson...Drop Goal. Ring any bells?

Posted by: Ross at February 26, 2004 at 05:33 AM

The biologist Lyall Watson once wrote about a missionary teaching soccer to some west Irianise natives decades ago, and became frustrated that they kept ending up with draws. Finally he asked why, the idea is for one side to win. The answer? Simple - the natives said that winning causes to many problems, but with a draw eveyone has a good time, and both sides are happy. The missionary was an idiot.

Posted by: Louis Hissink at February 26, 2004 at 06:55 AM


I read that the same phenomenon occured when Americans taught baseball to the Japanese.

In America, if the score is a draw at the end of nine innings, extra innings are played until a winner is decided.

In Japan, a draw at the end of nine is allowed to stand as both teams have "saved face".

Posted by: JDB at February 26, 2004 at 08:08 AM

Could substitute Melbourne for London and Steyn remains spot on.

Posted by: d at February 26, 2004 at 08:38 AM

Harnek Singh, meet Joe Arpaio. You'll get on famously.

Posted by: slatts at February 26, 2004 at 09:25 AM

How curious! Here in the US, it would be considered bad form for any of the Educrats to stigmatize a student caught cheating....except for this firebrand Indian professor I had for an advanced comp sci class. The Chinese grad students had refined cheating to such a level as to be utterly compelling in audacity and sophistication, but Prakash had their number. He pitched 40% of them out of the class. I still get the chuckles thinking about his ranting and railing... But now I wonder how hard it would have been to concentrate on recursive decent parsers if bullets had been flying.

Posted by: arlo at February 26, 2004 at 10:38 AM

In Colin Turnbull's autobiography, I've read reports of the ancient sport of Pancake Greaze at Winchester, and apparently that one is right bloody.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at February 26, 2004 at 02:20 PM