The summer has ended. Extensive fixture programmes have concluded, the excitement of semi finals, finals and the climax of other competitions has passed. The cricket and rounders equipment has been stored away for another six months or so, to be rediscovered sometime in the future and pressed into service for future seasons.
So, now that the stopwatch batteries have run out, what is left behind? What is the legacy of all those hours of practice, travel and umpiring? What is the return from the substantial investment of time and money? Over 10,000 fixtures will have been played by independent schools in Britain during the summer term: what has been achieved by this enormous programme?
There are the statistics. The cricket scorebooks and rounders scoresheets hold the records of triumphs and disasters, and they may find further exposure for the connoisseur in the further recesses of future school magazines. Occasional trophy cabinets hold the product of rare competitive triumphs. Both of these will soon be gathering dust – or lost when they are out of sight and out of mind. Do the records justify the effort?
The only worthwhile legacy is how the experiences of the term have impacted on the lives of the participants.
Firstly, in memories. It is unlikely that there will be cherished recollections of hours of nets, fielding practices and running round cones, but maybe the moments of magic – successful innings, sublime shots, a rare six, a running catch, a rounder straight off the middle of the bat – may live long in the memory. Or a team working together in the field under a hot sun to achieve victory by defending their score. Or an away game or tour that brought experience of a new place or new opponents
Perhaps the legacy is one of achievement. A first fifty or hundred. A first outfield catch. A batting or bowling average of a number that is good for a batting average. A sense of mastery – of triumphing in achieving something that is difficult.
Or maybe what remains is something far more substantial, enduring and valuable. Perhaps the experience of a term of sport has helped children develop an aspirational mindset, to be “the best that they can be”. Perhaps they have come to appreciate a correlation between effort and achievement, and understand that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Possibly they may have developed commitment, choosing to make social arrangements to accommodate rounders matches in order not to let team mates down. Or self discipline to resist temptation. Or determination to keep going on a hot day. Maybe personal organisation to integrate sporting commitments with schoolwork.
Runs and rounders are a currency with no value once the game is over. The sporting equivalent of the Zimbabwean dollar. That is why games can appear to be a waste of time and effort. If nothing is left but scores once the season is ended, then it is questionable whether all the expense is worthwhile. If life lessons remain, then the value is indisputable.
The annual PADSIS conference will be held on 3 February 2017 in Oxford. Find out more and book at www.padsis.com