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Osaka city to ban human pyramids at school sports days

22 Comments

The Osaka City Board of Education has announced it plans to ban "kumitaiso," the popular gymnastic formation known as a human pyramid, at local school sports days, due to increasing safety concerns.

The human pyramid, where students kneel in rows on each other’s backs, is a long-running sport practice at Japanese schools, but it has also been the cause of ongoing serious injuries, stirring a nationwide debate on its safety, Fuji TV reported.

A major accident that sparkled the safety debate occurred in September last year at a junior high school in Yao, Osaka Prefecture, when a 10-tier human pyramid collapsed during a performance at the school’s sports festival. The accident left several students injured, including one with a broken arm.

In 2015, Osaka city’s government launched a safety guideline for elementary and junior high schools to limit the tier number in the pyramids, but accidents continued nevertheless, leading them to judge that the practice is unsafe.

The board of education plans on starting the ban officially from April.

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22 Comments
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it's about time they banned this silly "tradition." the next to go should be the millipede race that is shown on tv once a year.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What about human centipedes?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Only Osaka?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only Osaka?

As of now, it would appear so. Hope other regions (other than Osaka) will follow suit in due course if not at once.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only Osaka?

Gravity is stronger in Osaka. There are no injuries resulting from this event in other parts of Japan due to the lower impacts of weaker gravity, so don't expect this traditional sports event to disappear any time soon. ;-)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I definitely agree to the idea of the restriction for "kumitaiso." I've experienced "kumitaiso" including " human pyramid" and "tower" concering the danger of injury at the junior high school and high school. Actually, I witnessed the accident that one of my friends got injured by falling down form the top of the human pyramid when I was a junior high school student. He injured his lower back, and it took a month to get better. Unfortunately, he couldn't even participate the final tournament of the soccer game.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good, it was a cultural nonsense anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I mean, can we not just apply common sense? Or make a blanket rule that says schools are 100% responsible for all injuries incurred in any forced events? (That is, stuff students have no choice in doing or not; getting injured in a club match I think can be expected to a small degree)

My point is two-fold: 1) I see no reason why we can't do a 1 or 2 level pyramid for little kids or whatever AND/OR 2) They're just going to find some other equally stupid/dangerous event to replace it...and because it's not a pyramid "there was no way to predict the regrettable injuries".

Here I've seen a 3-man horse...hat..event where two kids have a 3rd on their shoulders... the top kid has to steal the hat of a rival top-kid... we're talking lunging, swiping, pushing and pulling. I guess we can expect more of that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kaynide: "My point is two-fold: 1) I see no reason why we can't do a 1 or 2 level pyramid for little kids or whatever..."

They already ARE banned beyond a certain limit, but the school in question, KNOWING the limit, went above it anyway saying the students needed to 'gaman' and learn about pain, etc. There are reports that in the past some kids have even suffered nerve damage and spinal injuries -- it is pretty clear that despite a limit already on how many tiers are permitted the school are simply NOT going to follow it if the pyramid is allowed at all (which I'll get to).

"...AND/OR 2) They're just going to find some other equally stupid/dangerous event to replace it...and because it's not a pyramid "there was no way to predict the regrettable injuries".

So, ban sports day all together. I know VERY few kids who actually enjoy it, and FAR more who hate it. It also literally takes away from study time since they practice for months before the main circus show -- and that's all it is, a show for parents and grandparents -- taking entire afternoons off (or mornings) in many cases, and the whole day off the day before for a run-through. This is the same system that is complaining about the lack of study time and the need to reinstitute Saturday classes!

Now, I agree with you on one point -- the schools will not learn. I'm quite sure that some will perform the human pyramid despite it being banned. It is my hope that parents will put their kids' safety above the ambitions of arrogant gym teachers and if they hear about pyramids being practiced, report it immediately. If the BOE does nothing, report it to a higher level, and so on, until someone DOES something besides lip-service.

I hope it's not long before the other areas follow suit, and I hope if any school does it the people responsible are immediately fired and their qualifications removed. It's ridiculous that the kids' safety is put at risk for the aforementioned teachers and Admin to try and please parents.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Agree. Outdated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Smith:

I could agree with all that; I get that school is a place to teach kids and give them some kind of balance in life, and that athletics are certainly a part of that...but the dog-and-pony aspect of it is just silly. I think part of it is that Japan as a whole has built up this environment where parents just expect to see their kids being great at whatever they do. Perhaps there's too much pressure or "Shame" when something goes wrong?

Like, the preschool where kids go start practicing for an Xmas performance in..oh.. September -_- And this is an optional performance that must be paid for outside of tuition... makes me wonder wtf the kids that opt out are doing all those months.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapanFEB. 10, 2016 - 11:26PM JST Now, I agree with you on one point -- the schools will not learn. I'm quite sure that some will perform the human pyramid despite it being banned. It is my hope that parents will put their kids' safety above the ambitions of arrogant gym teachers...

Hold on a sec... at our school? The gym teacher (me) wants to cancel it, and it's the kids I'm up against who want to do the pyramid (admittedly, it's not really a pyramid - more a triangle. Only 5 high and one rank deep). The "arrogant" there is a bit of a stretch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just another step to producing another weak generation. Don't know about anyone else but, broken bones and cuts from an active childhood plus the belt when I was bad, made me a stronger person and one, through my pain can see, feel and understand the pain of others. (Raised in the 60s and 70s.) Kids will get hurt no matter what you do. Someplaces in American even canceled recess because parents complained about their kids getting hurt, and they couldn't handle lawsuits. The result weak, fat kids are raised with no social skills.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just to be the oddball here, I like watching it, and the kids love doing it. They just have to do it safely. A 10-tier pyramid isn't safe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's a good idea. We don't want any risk in Japan.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If this was voluntary there might be fewer accidents. One problem is that there are some students taking part who really do not want to be in there for one reason or another, and they are probably unable or afraid to say anything.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A logical step for a change, well done Osaka!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shame, I was quite looking forward to seeing my daughter grow up and participate in this at school. I've done 3-tier at school back in the UK though not on a sports day. Obviously anything more than 3-tier is clearly ridiculous.. but 10 tier!?!? I'd have had a fit finding out my kids doing that. What were they thinking!?!?!?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Next to go will be blindfolded Javelin catching. The sports world is really changing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One Japanese father told me that he flat out didn't like the athletic festivals at all. He thought they were militaristic tradition of a bygone era. He also pointed out that children who were overwieght were expected to run their hearts out in the mandatory relay races. He went on to say that many of the parents and kids were way too serious and over excited about winning as though it's the Olympic Games, and that he'd personally observed parents snickering and seeming to make remarks when watiching the fat kids falling behind in the relay races. He felt sorry for the fat kids and felt that it must be a humiliating experience for them and that they're probably scared to death each year when the athletic festival approaches. To make a long story short, he thought that children should be given the right to choose between studying or practicing for and participating in the athletic festivals.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not sure how important PE is in the Japanese system.

Back home PE was taken very serious and they grading was done very seriously, is you had to perform above a certain limit to get a good grade that included swimming, athletics, etc.

Granted we don't have sports days and no school sport teams.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

FWIW... "City" should be capitalized in the text and title. If not, a poor (i.e. potentially not clear) writing style that seems to be trendy in recent years, there could be confusion as to which city in Osaka (Prefecture) is meant. Capping it would make it clear from start.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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