a ball around a pitch seems pretty futile to me. In basketball or a sport like
that, someone jumps up for a ball and, even if they don’t catch it, everyone
cheers. All very strange! It’s at these times that I really do feel as if I
come from another planet and, to be quite honest, I like mine better. Beam me
up, Scotty! (…) Now I am in secondary school, this sports issue is even worse.
I am in a private school and here it seems we are now expected to love talking
about rugby or golf. Well, whoopee doo…I would rather watch paint dry. Quite
literally. The thought of doing games really makes me feel ill, I can’t even
think about sleeping at night when I have games the next day. I can’t
concentrate on the lessons before as my worst nightmare is slowly approaching.
When it is time for the lesson, I genuinely do feel sick and have a headache
from all the worrying. Of course I am told that I will be able to run it off or
just ignored completely. It is my worst time at school and I have done all I
can to avoid it’ (Jackson, 2002, p. 130).
The opening extract is from Luke Jackson, a
thirteen-year-old boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome which results in heightened
sensitivity to particular physical activity environments. Although it is
negative, and clearly there are many young people who feel differently, the
extract does encourage us as teachers or coaches to critically review our
awareness of the views and attitudes held by children and young people in
physical education and sport. Young people’s attraction to and engagement with
physical education and sport is complex, varying from those who embrace being
physically active whenever the opportunity arises to those who are negative
about both. Moreover, youth voice in physical education and sport is compounded
by young people’s construction of what these activities entail, and also the
current positioning of each young person in the context of their family and
friends, community and popular culture (MacPhail, Collier & O’Sullivan,
2009). By listening to and reporting what young people tell us about their
experiences of (learning in) physical education and sport, this chapter
recognizes young people as diverse and complex learners with a multiplicity of
needs and interests. Listening – and hearing – in this way has implications for
teachers and coaches, and these are considered throughout.