Most parents I’ve met in my life have seemed like decent people. However, one of the things I’ve learned in my Daddyhood is that no matter who the parents are, no matter what they do in life, all parents transform into either aggressive jerks or complete morons during an elementary school sports day. (Actually, there’s a third category, but we’ll get to that.) This is especially true in Japan.
The first transformation occurs before the event begins. If it’s scheduled to start at 8:40 a.m., you will see parents roaming the field at 7:30 or 8:00 so they can mark territory with blue tarps. (At some of the more prestigious schools, parents camp out overnight for the best spots.) In our case, aggressive jerks lay out blue tarps and weight them down with a bag or a couple bottles of water and then disappear until the starting time. There’s no requirement that a person actually be there, the blue tarp holds the spot.
Once people arrive, you really see the transformation. Complete morons arrive in funny hats and/or long sleeve jackets to protect themselves from the sun. Children are allowed to run across other people’s blue tarps. At the start of events, the complete morons rush to their places, thus blocking sight lines for other parents. They then realize they chose a bad spot and rush off to a new location, upsetting even more sight lines.
This is also time for the arrival of the aggressive jerks. In the photo areas, they force their way to the front, they set up tripods and they bump other aggressive jerks’ tripods. The taller they are, the more likely they are to forget that tall people don’t need to be at the front because they can see over short people. They talk loudly so the only thing you can hear on the video is the sound of complete morons talking about how some people are aggressive jerks. The worst are the parents and grand-parents of first graders attending their first sports day. They rise to a special level of aggression and will not be denied. They are not the worst, though. They are merely inexperienced, which makes them complete morons.
When you combine aggressive jerk with complete moron you get the third category: asshole. The asshole is seated close to the front, with a great view of the action, but stands up because he doesn’t understand that standing up doesn’t bring the picture closer, the zoom lens does. The asshole also doesn’t understand that the zoom lens works just as well whilst you’re sitting. This causes other assholes to stand up while some aggressive jerk behind them shouts, in another language, “sit down, asshole.” because he forgot to ask his wife how to say “down in front” in Japanese.
Most people are aggressive jerks when their child is on the field, but quickly excuse themselves or sit down once the heat is over. The asshole, though, will remain standing long after most others have sat down.
That said, for the most part, the sports days at my youngest’s elementary school are pretty painless. Unfortunately, I’m required to get mad at someone, and therefore be an aggressive jerk, at least once per sports day or the day isn’t complete. I’m also one of the morons wearing a funny hat