The writer of ‘Save our children from the horrors of school sport’ uses various presentational devices in order to create a weighted argument in opposed to England’s obsession of sport in schools. The title is already emotive with the use of words such as ‘save’ and ‘horrors’ as it is made to sound as if the children are being terrorised with the use of ‘school sport’ and adds emphasis to the situation. Moreover, the use of alliteration reinforces its emotive but informative impact on its readers.
The article, which is written in first person, uses humour as this draws the readers in. Evidently, Harris sees England’s obsession in sport as his teachers considered that the fact he was unable to do ‘forward rolls’ was a ‘handicap’ and would cause some sort of difficulties to gain an employment in the future. Their attitude is conveyed with emphasis and humour, as if doing ‘forward rolls’ had significance. Furthermore, Harris mentions that once he learnt how to do so, he was then able to add this ability to his C.V. (‘curriculum vitae’), again using humour and sarcasm to express his opinion on how unimportant this ability was and overall how “compulsory” had turned into: “overly obsessed”.
The use of facts and statistics are used effectively, informing us that ‘only 11 per cent of children aged six to eight spent two hours or more a week in PE lessons last year, down almost a third on 1995’ as this adds authenticity and reliability to the article. It informs us of how children today are lacking physical activity and regard it as ‘nonsense’ which shows us the dramatic downfall of schools and sport of which Harris seems unconcerned. He felt that the ‘sporting figures’ which saw a correlation between compulsory sports and success on the ‘international stage’ was nonsense as he makes fun out of this belief with an emphatic contrast that he was told that PE was ‘all that stands between lardy failure and the triumph of finely-toned Gods’.
Harris effectively uses a scenario which some may be familiar with of being ’roundly humiliated by being picked last for football’. Evidently, he doesn’t see a link between this ‘misery’ and a chance to achieve ‘Olympic gold’. Overall, the scenario allows us to empathise for the situation he was once in and allows us realise how unimportant ‘school sport’ was for those who weren’t exactly fond of doing so. Furthermore, Harris’ use of alliteration once again adds emphasis of ‘making sport synonymous’ as it tended to ‘put off even the people who were good at it’. It emphasises the schools obsession as he mentions he had witnessed a ‘talented young athlete being slammed against a brick wall for expressing his reluctance to attend yet another Saturday morning cross-country meeting.’ This links back to the headline which mentions ‘horrors’ from the fact ‘games teachers’ have even thought of resorting to violence just for a minor problem which should have been, instead dealt with more understanding rather than violence.
Harris then reflects on his past on how he even had a ‘gang’ which were reluctant to be so conscious with school sport. Again, his use of humour as he says ‘one more convert to embassy filter, one lost medal for the UK’ helps to make his argument as it exaggerates the situation just as the games teachers who take school sport far too seriously in Harris’ perspective. Moreover, he mentioned how they spoiled sport by playing a game called ‘Team For A Laugh’ in order to make his point.
In conclusion, the author successfully manages to argue his views of compulsory school sport and on how completely unnecessary it was to be obsessing over. However, since it is written in first person, it is mainly his own view which is rarely ever backed up by someone else’s, probably an expert would have strengthened his argument. But he still manages to be successful in making his point, concluding with his belief that like in Germany, sport should be considered as ‘pastimes best enjoyed by those who are good at them’. Overall, the article is well thought out and written as it even concludes with the use of informal language: ‘Erm, not sure about that one, Trev’, showing his confidence that England’s beliefs of sporting are wrong.