This country that I dearly love is skilled at sending mixed signals.
The government has just said it will dole out substantial amounts of money to athletes, and their coaches, who bring home medals from the Beijing Olympics.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Two government schools have punished their sports-minded kids, either disqualifying them or withholding their prizes. Why? For dressing appropriately when competing in cross-country runs. In other words they were sensible enough to wear shorts. For this good sense, they were punished.
At one school, of the 10 students coming in first on a 5 km cross country run, only two (not the winners) were give prizes. Worse, according to parents of the others, as quoted in The Star newspaper, they were initially given false excuses (e.g. "The number pinned on your shirt is torn") - presumably because the teachers involved didn't have enough guts to give the real reason!!
It sounds as if - and I could be wrong here - that teachers of one religious persuasion didn't have the courage to tell the parents of students (possibly mostly of other religious persuasions) that they wanted to impose their religious values on everyone under their jurisdiction. They did tell lies though, and considered that ok?
It reminds me of my daughter when attending the local primary school down the road. She and her fellow students worked out that the teacher for art marked down every painting of a beach scene (the topic given that day) - no matter how brilliant - if it portrayed a female in a swimsuit. Marking art on the basis of your religious values? You betcha! Not having the guts to tell the kids what you were doing? Yep, that too!
My daughter was tickled pink because she got top marks. She was lousy at doing figures, so all her people were up to their necks in the ocean...