School sport 'simply not cricket'

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

Image caption, Cricket was once seen as the gentleman's game

When it comes to school sport, it's simply not cricket, a poll of today's youngsters suggests.

They are willing to elbow, head-butt and argue their way to victory, the survey of 1,015 eight to 16-year-olds says.

Some 54% of those polled for charity the Cricket Foundation said they witnessed bad sportsmanship in every single school sports match they played.

While over half said they themselves would break the rules in team games.

This willingness to cheat went down to 13.3% for those playing individual sports.


Examples of bad sportsmanship cited in the survey included people pretending to be hurt, diving in football matches to win penalties, punching, kicking and swearing.

One child told researchers: "Boys in school playing rugby pulled a boy to the ground and stood on his knee so he couldn't score a try."

Another described how he had been hit in a hockey game at school so the opposite team could score.

And a third pupil described how a boy had thrown a snooker ball at his opponent because he was winning.

The poll, for the Cricket Foundation and the guardians of the laws of cricket, the MCC, is part of an ongoing nationwide scheme to encourage fair play in schools sports.

It also makes the claim that children in Leeds are the worst rule-breakers.


More than one in four (27%) of youngsters in the city said they saw unfair play "lots of times" in a single game, whereas in Sheffield only 7% said the same.

Half of parents said the felt it was their responsibility to deal with their child's unfair play, while 28% said it was down to the coach.

The poll also found that children were not impressed by professional sportsmen who broke the rules.

Seven in 10 (72%) said they would describe a sportsman who played unfairly as a "cheat", with just 4% saying they would consider them "cool".

But some 67% said that seeing a sportsman break the rules to win would not make them do the same.

Wasim Khan, cricketer and chief executive of the Cricket Foundation, said: "Fair play is something that should be taught at an early age. We feel that we're in an ideal position to help teach good sportsmanship through our Chance to shine programme and partnership with MCC."

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