playing in the garden

The sportswear dilemma of National Sports Week

Until last week, I’d not felt too pressured by school non-uniform dates. World book day passed pretty easily (I had a plan for Horrid Henry, but N decided he didn’t want to dress up), non-uniform days have either been pj days or just standard non-uniform. I can cope with those. Even the nativity worked out easily with my 5 minute multi character t-shirt costume! But sports week has proved the hardest.

Yes, last week was National Sports Week. I didn’t know there was one, but I shouldn’t have been surprised given the various national and international days there are. The children were told they could wear sports wear for the week. Apart from doing a lot of sports day practise and their usual sports sessions where they would be in their PE kit, I can’t see any other reason for the sportswear.

As soon as we were told sportswear, my heart sank. N is 5 years old. He owns some jogging trousers for the purpose of school and scruffing around on the farm, although he rarely wears them. But he doesn’t do sport outside of school (apart from swimming and that’s not suitable for school wear). The only sportswear he has is his PE kit.

So I scrabbled round.

  • Jersey shorts – he has a few pairs of those, scruffy style for summer holidays and some nicer Gap and Frugi ones. But usually he wears chino shorts. Not specifically sporty, but they’re what I would wear for sport.
  • Polo shirts – plenty of those but they’re all stripy or block colours rather than plain/more sporty
  • Other t shirts – all big pictures on or smart stripes. Nothing sporty.

I went to H&M and bought another pair of shorts and some plain cheap polo shirts. He then had just about enough to wear something new each day. Because my 5 year old can’t go through a day at school and after school club without getting filthy.

Then Monday came and I’d just left out stripy jersey shorts and a t shirt with a Converse trainer on it. Given that most people I know would wear whatever shorts and t-shirt was clean and cool I thought that was fine. N was happy too….until the next morning when I heard him tell his dad

‘2 boys told me I wasn’t wearing sporty clothes’. My heart sank. Age 5 and being pointed out as different (probably) because he wasn’t in football kit. I was surprised at who he said one of the boys was, but that day got him out plain jersey shorts and a plain polo shirt.

‘N, this is sportswear. This is what tennis players wear, and golfers wear polo shirts, so you are in sportswear’. He seemed happy with this, even sharing that ‘our tennis coach wears clothes like this’. Perfect.

For the rest of the week I didn’t hear a murmur of other children’ conversations but I did head into Sports Direct with a colleague (who’s been through this type of thing with 3 children older than N), and I found N a pair of plain black sports shorts and t shirts. Unfortunately sports shorts don’t have adjustable waists and non-functioning drawstrings, so N spent the day wearing the black shorts with a safety pin in to hold the waist a bit tighter.

Talk about peer pressure though. On the morning I produced the black sports shorts, N was so excited.

‘Are these proper sports shorts? They’ve got a lion on’…the Slazenger symbol. ‘And the little animal on the t shirts too’. He’s easily pleased for only £10 for the 3 items, but so worrying that they feel at this young an age that they need to have a ‘uniform’ like all the others.

playing in the garden

Of course he was back to thinking any type of clothes were suitable for sport once he saw my brother who popped round and asked why he was in sportswear. When I explained and told him about the comments about ‘non-sporty’ clothes, my brother was astounded. He set N straight by telling him that ‘shoving on any pair of shorts and t-shirt does the job for sport if it’s for fun’.

The week was then over, with them ending on sports day. Thankfully that was hassle free apart from N wanting to know why he had a collar on his t shirt. Because finding a green t-shirt is a nightmare….until 2 days after sports day when I spotted one in Tesco.

All these hassles are why it’s so much better to have school uniform.

Have you had to find specific clothes for a week at school? How did you deal with it? Did you experience any peer pressure with your children at a young age?


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  1. Gosh, Sports Week sounds like a nightmare! Like you, I have very little “proper” sportswear for my 5 year old as anything he does doesn’t require it at the moment. However, we have just started football at school and amongst his 5 year old peers there is already pressure to have a ‘proper’ football kit with studs and shin-pads. Now, I haven’t yet looked into this but if he continues with his football in September then I will have to – not because I want he to, but because if he doesn’t he’ll be the odd one out. Maybe us parents should just talk to each other and agree things amongst ourselves, first!
    Glad N had a good Sports Day on Friday

  2. Luckily our sports week, just meant their usual pe kit.

    We missed Thursday as half the school was off with d&v, and Friday was a teacher training day

  3. That is very young to be experiencing peer pressure! We have a lot of sports kit around now – football (both son’s team and Man Utd replica kits), rugby, running and endless dance kit but we didn’t have anything when the kids were 5! I would definitely have considered shorts and Tshirts to be good enough when they were that age!

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