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Pledging to play nice in PE class

On the first day of school my daughter came home with an athletic contract.

How is it even legal to make an eight-year-old sign on the dotted line?

The contract was a bit of a surprise since my daughter isn’t on any sports team. I assume it was for physical education class.

It was covered front and back with rules. I think I got through the first three before my attention span cut out.

I’m putting my lawyer’s number on speed dial in preparation for that moment when my daughter violates part two, section three of her contract by getting grumpy standing in the outfield.

For the most part I agree with the basic idea; yes, she should support her team and do her best.

The part that really got me though was a line that read “playing sports is a privilege not a right”.

Um, say what?

I could see how that could be true if physical education class was a choice, but how can something you are forced to do possibly be a privilege?

I can remember begging my PE teacher to let me go to the library and read. “Why can’t I practice teamwork with a game of Scrabble or something?” I whined.

(I’m glad I was in school so many years ago. These days whining constitutes a violation of section one, paragraph three.)

My classmates towered over me, I had two left feet and zero physical coordination. PE was not fun; it was torture. The happiest day of my athletic career was being carted off the field after someone tripped over me during a hockey game. (Contract section 101, paragraph nine: stay out of the way.)

My PE teacher had wise words for me: “It’s a small school; we need you to make up the numbers.”

Oh. A contract like this one would have given hope to my clumsy little heart, because privileges can be revoked.

As a mom, though, I tried to be a good sport. I did not say all this to my eight-year-old. I got out the contract and gamely read out the rules. When we reached rule 275, she held up a hand.

“I get it,” she said, “play nice.”

I nodded.

She signed the contract.