My high school physical education teacher had a nickname for everyone. (Mine was “Little One” because I was the runt of the class. Better than “Chicken Bones,” as one scrawny boy was dubbed.) It didn’t bother me, but according to research recently published in Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, I dodged a bullet–or maybe the dodgeball.
Billy Strean, a professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says “a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be determined by either a good or a bad experience, based on the personal characteristics of the coach or instructor. For example, negative experiences may come from a teacher who has low energy, is unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students.”
One person in Strean’s study shared this: “I am a 51-year-old-woman whose childhood experiences with sports, particularly as handled in school, were so negative that even as I write this my hands are sweating and I feel on the verge of tears. I have never experienced the humiliation nor felt the antipathy toward any other aspect of life as I do toward sports.”
To help combat the obesity epidemic and give people a healthier attitude towards exercise, Strean suggests coaches and teachers emphasize fun and, until kids are in their teens, consider not keeping scores.
Not sure how my high school classmate “Ace” would have felt about that….
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