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Sports Day

The importance of supporting and helping others during a competition

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider that sports day is not just about winning, but also about finishing well and being proud of our achievements.

Preparation and materials

  • Optional: you may wish to use the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4.7, where Paul speaks about the importance of finishing a race: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’


  1. Start by asking the children how they are feeling about sports day.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    It is likely that answers will range from ‘I can’t wait’ to nervousness or even dread.

  2. Explain that even professional athletes like Mo Farah experience lots of different emotions before competitions such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, IAAF World Championships and European Athletics Championships. Athletes often talk about feeling nervous or excited and worried that they may not do their best after all the training they have done.

  3. Introduce the YouTube video by explaining that, during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, there was an accident while the women’s 5,000 metres event was underway. What happened teaches us that, when competing in a race, it isn’t all about the winning.

    Point out that athletes who compete in the Olympics have spent years in training, so they are determined to give the best possible performance. However, on this occasion, two female athletes tripped over one another. Instead of blaming each other, the two athletes helped each other up and encouraged one another to finish the race even though they were both injured and they knew they weren’t going to win.

  4. Show the YouTube video ‘The Most Beautiful Moment of Rio 2016’. It is 2.39 minutes long and is available at:

    By demonstrating fair play, sportsmanship and compassion for one another during the race, the two athletes ended up being given an Olympic award.

  5. Point out that, although both athletes had injured themselves, they both wanted to finish their race well.

    Life is sometimes spoken about as a race. We can choose to live our lives well, thinking about other people and helping them. Alternatively, we can decide to live selfish lives that only consider our own needs.

  6. In the New Testament part of the Bible, there is a person called Paul. Paul wrote lots of letters that make up part of the New Testament, which covers the time after Jesus came to Earth. Just before Paul died, he wrote the words, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ (2 Timothy 4.7)

  7. Christians believe that what Paul meant by these words was that he had lived his life in the way that God wanted him to. Paul had travelled around the Roman Empire teaching people about God. The Olympic Games were taking place even when Paul was alive, so people would understand what it meant to run races and cross the finishing line.

  8. Paul’s ‘race’ hadn’t been easy. He had been through some tough times in order to teach people about God. He’d been put in prison, shipwrecked, disliked by many people and sentenced to death. His race to teach people about God had been really difficult and there were many times when he could have been tempted to give up. However, just like the athletes in the YouTube video, Paul carried on with the race so that he could ‘finish well’.

Time for reflection

Sports day isn’t just about winning – it’s about taking part and the attitude with which we compete.

Some of us love sport; some of us don’t. However, we can all try our best and we can all help, support and encourage each other as we take part. The two athletes didn’t win an Olympic medal in their event, but they did get a special award for fair play, sportsmanship and the compassion they showed for one another. Having these attitudes during a sports competition is far more important than winning a race.

So, during sports day, let’s be like the two athletes and Paul from the Bible: let’s not give up if we’re not winning. Let’s keep going because the main thing is to finish the race well and feel proud of your achievements.

Dear God,
Thank you that we all have different abilities and talents.
Help us to be grateful for what we have.
Help us not to be jealous of others.
Help us to keep trying when we find something difficult.
Help us to encourage others.
Help us to enjoy our sports days!


‘Our God is a great big God’, available at: (3 minutes long)

Publication date: June 2018   (Vol.20 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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