The Independent London Newspaper
26th July 2014

Letters

The ‘unfair rules’ debate continues

Published: 16 May, 2013

Complaints cast shadow on event

• IT was great to see coverage of the Camden Schools Sports Assoc­iation cross-country event (New Journal, May 9).

However, the report on the overwhelmingly positive experiences of over 2,000 runners and spectators was somewhat overshadowed and under­mined by the dispropor­tionate coverage along­side, detailing the com­plaints from one individual.

It is true there was a rule change this year. It was proposed, discussed, and it was unanimously agreed that this would be a fairer system by PE
co-ordinators at the CSSA 2012 AGM. The details were sent out to all schools in the minutes at the time and very clearly highlighted on the entry form and two subsequent reminder emails.

Mr Goldsmith is right that Christchurch School in Hampstead was somewhat disadvantaged by the fact they entered only one boy in the Year 6 race. I understand Christchurch is in the difficult position of having only two boys in that year group (most schools have 15-30).

If we had been informed of this before the event it is likely we might have been able to find an accommodation and get it agreed by the other competing schools.

The new rules are not unfair – although any potential improvements suggested by schools will certainly be discussed. What is, however, unfair, is an ill-informed adult, at a children’s sports event, aggressively accusing CSSA organisers of cheating within earshot of many seven to 11-year-olds, and thus denigrating the achievements of the winning school, New End.

Some 1,600 children from 28 schools took part in the event and we have had unsolicited emails of thanks for organising a terrific event enjoyed by all staff and children from several headteachers, including from Katy Forsdyke of Christchurch.

I would like sincerely to thank the many people involved in making the day such a success, and, in line with the Olympics last year, especially all the volunteers.

Jef Gooding
Chair, CSSA

The new system’s fair

• IN response to Mr Goldsmith’s letter on his concerns about the “unfair” new scoring system at the recent CSSA cross-country championships, I would like to point out:
1. In every single way the new system is better and fairer. I am mystified by Mr Goldsmith’s assertion that “the old system was cherished by children of all schools”.
At last year’s event only 80 children actually scored (the élite top 10 in each race) while the remaining 1,400 were effectively ignored. As a result, more than 10 schools scored zero points.
2. The new system is used extensively at cross-country races throughout the country, from the local league for Under-11s to the National Cross-Country Championships.
This system is utilised so extensively because it is acknowledged that it is the fairest way to decide team positions.
3. Mr Goldsmith also states: “Everyone knows it is quite something to get 10th place let alone first”. Is he really suggesting that 11th to 20th, 21st to 30th etc is not also quite something?
The fourth scoring girl from New End, who came 50th, was a vital member of her team.
If she had made less effort and finished further down the field, New End might not have won the event. With the new system every runner that went through the finishing funnel had their number recorded, with the first four from each school counting towards the team total, and were made to feel they had ALL achieved quite something!
4. The CSSA cross-country is one of the best events of its kind in all the country.
It achieves a tricky balance of combining high level competition with mass participation (including athletes with disabilities). We need to embrace this and take it forward, not dumb it down.

Graham Norris
Highgate Harriers

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