Founding Day 2019

This year the Rahn en Tiahk holiday fell on a Sunday, which moved the observance of Rahn en Tiahk to Monday the first of April. The college opted to take the preceding Friday as the holiday, and proceed with the Founding Day on April first. Initial sign-in included only an option to sign-in agreeing to a medical waiver. There was, at least initially, no alternate sign-in without a medical waiver for those who may have had a known medical condition. This may have led to everyone signing the medical waiver, at least early on, whether or not they should have signed off on the medical waiver. There should have been two options from the get go: a participant option with a medical waiver and an observer option.

Sack races led off the day

Although the day was slated to begin with a marching in, either I missed the march in or the march in did not happen. The rainy gray and dark morning suppressed turn out at 9:00, and at least one and perhaps two grroups mistakenly mustered at the Pohnpei state track in Kolonia. PingMwok, which had only a single member attend a single meeting the Founding Day committee, did not muster at all. PingMwok did not participate in any of the events, their tent remained empty.

Softball relay race

While the field ground was soft and wet, the ground under the Pterocarpus indicus trees where the tents were located was hard and generally dry. Mats could have been used under the tents for sitting upon. The trees have firmed up that ground very nicely.

Rain blew threw during the day, but the showers were never heavy by local standards

Stacey, Katchugo

Bamboo race configuration

Bamboo race in motion

KSO collapsed onto Stacey at one point, she bruised her left shoulder in the collapse

In general the students are not in good physical condition and tend to lack the protective muscles that help cushion against injury when they pile up. Both anaerobic muscle mass is lacking as is aerobic endurance among the students. This would come back to haunt KSO in particular.

Soccer ball with tunnel vision race

Unable to find the ball

Egg toss

The women's egg toss would become an interesting comedy when the participants discovered that the ground was soft enough that a low throw would always survive a ground impact. First and second place would go to a "no catch" approach using a low, slightly short throw. The egg would then roll the rest of the distance.

Team green

More team green

Coconut husking

This was following by a two female, two male faculty and staff coconut husking event. My lack of ability put the green team in last place.  The morning events had been sack races, softball relay, soccer ball race, bamboo race, name calling, egg toss, musical chairs, and coconut husking. Coconut grating had been pulled due to safety concerns. The afternoon events were fluffy pyramid, hula relay, over under, easy dizzy, and tug of war. Easy dizzy required one faculty or staff member. The green team had lost faculty and staff by that point in the afternoon and I was the go to faculty member. Note that while a water relay had been planned, that did not occur to the best of my knowledge.

One oversight was the lack of any sort of table or stool for the water pitchers. This meant the pitchers had to be lifted in order to get a drink. There was also potentially a question of whether the bottom mounted spout was kept clear of the ground. Very few students chose to drink water given the circumstances.

Lunch time dance

By afternoon conditions had improved

Weather conditions were optimal: the cloud and light rain kept temperatures down and undoubtedly prevented cases of overheating.

Fluffy pyramid team members

Jamming in the marshmallows to complete the fluffy pyramid

While KSO opted to put the heaviest lifters on the bottom row, CTEC made other choices

Some groups opted for a standing top member

Green team moral support crew

Robert, Marlin.

Hula hoop passing, arms cannot be unlinked

Hula hoop relay

The hula hoop relay was followed by a faculty-staff race, two each team, where the faculty-staff attempted to hula hoop while running. This is nigh on impossible.

The tug-of-war would prove to be problematic this year. The tug-of-war usually inflicts only blisters, but this year would prove different. And perhaps part of the problem was the positioning used in particular by both YSO men and women. They chose to sit on the ground. Post-hoc I would learn that this approach is not permitted in international and regulation tug-o-war competitions. Yes, there is such a thing. There is a even a Tug-of-War International Federation. Sitting on the ground is specifically forbidden, or having any part of the body other than the sole of the foot on the ground is forbidden. The elbow being lower that the knee is also a forbidden position and would disqualify a team in competition.

The green team is in a legal position, the red team is not. In the wake of the events to come, some of the specific rules are worth citing for future reference.

The rope we are using appears to be too small in diameter. The international guidelines are that "the rope must not be less than 10 centimetres (100 mm) or more than 12.5 centimetres (125 mm) in circumference, and must be free from knots or other holdings for the hands. The ends of the rope shall have a whipping finish. The minimum length of the rope must not be less than 33.5 metres."

"The rope must be pulled underarm and nobody’s elbow must go below the knee, otherwise a foul will be called," according to Rules of Sport. Sitting, as I suspected, is an infringement of the rules, and a close inspection of the red team's position showed that they were starting from a sitting position. This is not to fault the red team, no one on the field realized that this was an infringement of the rules.

Infringement of the rules include the following (page 35):

1 Sitting: Deliberately sitting on the ground, or failure to return immediately to the
pulling position after slipping
2 Leaning:Touching the ground with any part of the body other than the feet
3 Locking: Any hold which prevents the free movement of the rope
4 Grip: Any grip other than the ordinary grip as described in Rule 11, 12 and 13
5 Propping: Holding the rope in a position where it does not pass between the body and
the upper part of the arm
6 Position: Sitting on a foot or a limb or the feet not extended forward of the knee
7 Climbing: the rope Passing the rope through the hands
8 Rowing: Repeatedly sitting on the ground whilst the feet are moved backwards
9 Anchor position: Any other than the position described in Rule 13
10 Trainer Trainer: communicating to his team whilst they are pulling
11 Side-Stepping: A team moving sideways out of the existing tracks/footholds such that
neither foot is in the existing tracks/footholds
12 Footholds: Digging with the heel and making indents in the ground in any way prior to
the Judge issuing the instruction to “Take the Strain"

Teams will receive two (2) cautions for infringements of the Rules in any one (1) pull,
before being disqualified. For all infringements of the Rules, a team may be deemed
guilty if only one person offends.

Another document notes:

"Fouls: There is a particular technique that needs to be applied while playing this game, if not then
there will be a foul which can call in for disqualifications. For e.g. lowering your elbow below
the knee level while pulling the rope is considered to be a foul and is called ‘locking’. Touching
the ground for a longer period of time is also considered as a foul."

A Baylor University document also note that sitting is a foul: "Sitting on the ground/floor is typically not permitted and is an infringement of the rules."

We also have too many on a team: all of the online documentation notes that teams consist of only eight members, we had 15 on each end. And that was part of the difficulty: by this point in the day some team members had left. In order to field a full 15 member team, some members felt obligated to join to avoid a forfeit, even those they were perhaps tired from earlier competitions.

In the female green versus red competition the pull would go long, with the red team sitting and the green team on their feet. At the end of a long, hard pull, one member of the green team passed out. This may have been in part due to their having chosen not to eat lunch during the lunch break. This is not unusual for our students: when they are competing they often choose not to eat, waiting until the competition is done to eat. Some perhaps fear nausea and subsequent embarrassment.

No sooner had this first student collapsed, but a second green team member collapsed. She was having difficulty breathing, perhaps exercise induced asthma. A student might have this condition and not know this. With two team members already down, two more green team members passed out, although they would recover more quickly than the first two.

Note that a better medical waiver system would not have necessarily prevented the situation that developed - these were not students with any other known medical condition other than perhaps not being physically fit.

The students truly enjoy the tug-of-war, and simply dropping the event might not be popular. Perhaps conforming to international rules and regulations would make the the event a safer event. Certainly the need to field 15 students was problematic - the green team was fielding every medically cleared female available at that point in the day.

Although the tug-of-war ended with issues, the day went otherwise well and was again something akin to a fun family picnic. That the students are not in good aerobic nor anaerobic physical condition is not a surprise. Beyond the single ESS requirement, perhaps some sort of "fitness passport" with semester goals for students should be explored. There should be increased investment in gear that supports physical fitness - treadmills, stair stepping machines, rowing machines, and activities that engage more than just the athletically active subset of the students. Fitness programs should include students, staff, faculty, and administration. The college can be an example to the community of how to be a healthy organization.


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