Could there be a sinister reason some parents show up for their kids’ school sports festivals?

With Japan’s work-comes-first societal values, it’s pretty common for dads to be absent from most of their kids’ school functions and extracurricular activities. However, a lot of busy salarymen manage to carve out time in their schedules to come to their children’s school sports day festival, which is usually held in the fall.

Despite the name, aside from a relay race most of the competitions that take place at Japanese school sports festivals aren’t what we’d usually recognize as “sports.” For example, there’s commonly something called “kibasen” (literally “knight and horse battle”), which is kind of like a multi-based chicken fight where you to pull your opponent’s headband off his head. Then there’s “tamaire,” in which a while group of kids simultaneously try to throw small balls into a net on a pole standing in the center of the play area.

▼ Kibasen

▼ Tamaire

But despite the esoteric nature of the competitions, Japanese Twitter user @fgyu recently recalled that his dad showed up for sports day every year when @fgyu was growing up, and it turns out he had an almost-heartwarming reason.


“When I was in elementary school, one time I asked my dad ‘Why do you come t my sports festival every year?’

He told me, ‘Well, you see, to me you’re like a Pokémon. Watching the kid you raised as he fights to exhaustion against the kids other people raised is the most fun thing there is.’

I still can’t forget his psychotic answer.”

So according to @fgyu, in his dad’s eyes he wasn’t a Pokémon because he was cute and cuddly, but because he was a bundle of stats and techniques battling against opponents from other trainers, er, parents. However, a few Twitter users pointed out similarities to a tweet from Twitter user @tosiyaan that predates @fgyu’s by a little more than four months.

“I used to wonder what the heck parents thought was so interesting about going sports festivals, but having the character you raised battle against characters other people raised is super fun.”

It’s not clear if @tosiyaan is @fgyu’s father, @fgyu is piggybacking on @tosiyaan’s analogy, or if the whole thing is a coincidence. In any case, though, commenters reacted with a mix of mirthful acceptance and rueful understanding, with responses to the two tweets including:

“Is your dad’s name Ash?”
“I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to enjoy about Pokémon.”
“So the sports festival is like the Pokémon League tournament?”
“Aren’t your kids’ abilities more like a randomized gacha game?”
“I was all set to say how great your dad is, until I got to the end.”
“Even still, I think your father loves you in his own way.”

It’s worth pointing out that while some parents may look at their kids’ sports festivals as heated battles, that’s definitely not the case for all families. “When I go to the sports festival, I’m not even paying attention to the other kids, I’m just happy to see how much my kid has grown,” said one commenter. “It doesn’t matter if they win or not,” offered another. “Watching them do their best is just so cute!”

It should also be noted that many of the events at sports festivals aren’t even competitive in nature. Group dances are a common activity, as is forming human pyramids…though in the case of the latter, maybe some parents just want to see the spectacle of one collapsing.

Source: Twitter/@tosiyaan, Twitter/@fgyu via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he was always happy when his dad showed up for his San Dimas High School Football games (yep, they didn’t just make up the team for Bill and Ted).