Yesterday was sports day for the first grade guys at my high school (the second graders were in China on a field trip, and third grade students don’t get to do anything but study). I walked around an hour before it was to begin and all the classes were having BBQ pork in different spots.

Th guys kept wanting me to eat some–actually, to hand feed it to me Korean style. I let them GIVE me some to feed myself with, lol. I still can’t get past two things about hand feeding in Korean culture: one, in western culture it’s usually done by one lover to another or a parent to a child, and secondly, the guys are not known for washing their hands properly, let alone before eating, and most especially before feeding ME!

Since I had about an hour to kill I wandered around the school grounds talking to the boys, and taking pictures.  Then I saw one of my favorite birds in Korea, a magpie. There are several that have nests on the school grounds.

Yesterday I also spent some time looking at pictures from the girls high school sports day where I taught in 2006–I’ll try to do a post about the girls sports day next week, and when you see the huge contrast in how the boys classes are sitting around the playing field, only wearing their uniforms (the girls wore costumes and other stuff), and not really cheering or chanting for the teams playing . . . well, sorry boys but the girls KICK YOUR ASSES in terms of sports day.

And then the games began.  The three events were soccer, basketball, and relay races.  The soccer and basketball games ran 15 minutes for each match, and were also run simultaneously.  The relay races happened intermittently throughout the afternoon, and during breaks when no games were being played.  It was really nice to see the first graders (grade 9) have fun and let go–all too often I only see them when they’re stressed out and exhausted from the 15 hours a day they spend at the school.

Later on there was a shoot out at the end of a 0-0 game.  The two goalies had HUGE pressure on them to win for their class.

It just wasn’t this guy’s day . . .

There were two basketball locations: one in the gym, and one on an outside court.  The lighting conditions kept changing in both places because the sun kept disappearing behind clouds, and it rained a little a couple of times.  I still managed to get some nice shots–I really like this outdoor one . . . .

. . . and this indoor shot is pretty good too.

Something also VERY different than the girls sports day (back in 2006 at the girls high school I taught at) was the freaking MASS CASUALTIES that happened all throughout the afternoon . . . sprained ankles, groin injuries, impact injuries, full on collisions . . . there was a student on the ground writhing in pain at least once every 10 minutes over the course of 4 hours . . .

I really like this picture because it shows high school friendships and how the guys really take care of each other when one of their friends need help.

This guy was awesome!  He’s one of the shortest first grade students but he was rocking the ball like Michael Jordan.  I think nearly every shot he took was a jump shot, and he sunk most of them too.

The sunlight coming in from the ceiling windows above and behind where I’m standing to take this shot gave the guys this larger than life glow . . . I wish the events hadn’t been running simultaneously because I would have taken more shots inside the gym.

I kept going from game to game to game taking pictures.  Sometimes the sun was out, and other times it’d be cloudy and raining a little.  The guys on the outdoor basketball court were playing hard, and holding nothing back.

These guys wanted me to take their team picture after winning a game.  They kept saying they were the ‘champions’ (yet it wasn’t the final match of the day) so I humored them and snapped this shot.  I can see the guys have studied pictures of how pro soccer teams pose . . . lol.

Then another round of relay races took place.

Some guys were only wearing SOCKS for their runs.  I guess if you don’t have expensive track shoes then socks would be better then heavy runners, but man if the impact wouldn’t be hard on your feet!

These two guys were neck and neck at the finish line . . .

It seemed clear to me that the guy on the left won the race, but afterwards there was a bit of a broohaha between some teachers about who had won–I imagine each of the guy’s teachers were arguing that their student had won . . . it seems that even at the high school level of competition there needs to be a camera at the finish line to establish who won without a doubt . . .

And then there were more soccer matches . . .

Nice move . . .

. . . and more injuries . . .

Yet another match ended with a 0-0 score, so there was another shoot out.

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This guy was REALLY REALLY happy!  He pretty much won the championship for his class–good for him.

Then the final relay race began . . .

These guys were pretty fast runners . . . and really pumped to get their team to place first.

This guy must be on the track team or something cause he was a good 20 meters ahead of the other runners when he finished.  I won’t post the picture of him doing a jump into the air and using his butt to cross the finish line . . . it would have been nice to see a little more class and sportsmanship but maybe that’s a cultural bias on my part–I don’t know.

One of the best parts of the day was watching these two guys battle it out for second and third place overall.

Everybody watching loved the raw enthusiasm of this guy, lol.

And he did it!

Once the relay race final was over sports day came to an abrupt finish.  There was no closing ceremony, and no handing out of awards or closing speeches.  Everybody just left the playing field and that was it.  I was kind of disappointed because I think it would have been nice to see the teams that won be given some kind of small trophies or certificates, and for everyone to applaud their efforts . . . but it seems that the only thing that anyone cared about, as a Korean teacher said to me, was seeing “who won, nothing else matters.”

I think that in spite of this fixation on winning and getting the first place ranking for their class that the guys did have a good time playing the games, and having fun with each other outside of the classroom but still ‘at school’–something that happens very rarely in Korea.

While I enjoyed watching the girls high school sports day back in 2006 a lot more than the boys high school sports day, it was still a lot of fun and I’m glad I got to attend.

Well, time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day–it’s supposed to hit 22 and be sunny!

J

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