Becoming competitive

Are we turning our population into one of snivelling babies?

I have to ask this question after watching a competitive game show today, which I will get back to in a minute.

David Cameron has recently stated that we should bring back competitive sport in schools because the children of today (and leaders of tomorrow, perhaps) do not know how to be competitive in life.  And I have to say I agree with this particular sentiment.  Having a ‘sports day‘ where children are given the option of whether or not they want to participate in the games, games which consist of egg and spoon races, parachute, obstacle course, skipping, bean bag balancing, etc, is ridiculous to begin with.  Even worse is the idea that every single child wins.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for positive reinforcement and it’s not nice to leave a child out or make them feel bad for not winning and I am in no way advocating this but surely it would be better to give the winners a bigger or better reward for winning (an incentive).  This is how my sports days were when I was in school.  The winner got a trophy or gold medal (depending on the event), second got a smaller trophy or silver medal and third a small trophy or bronze medal as per any regular sporting event (ie: Olympic Games, Formula 1, etc.)  Now in my school, so as to ensure the confidence of those who did not come in the top three would not be completely annihilated, each ‘runner-up’ (useful term) would get something small, usually a pen with the school logo, mini notepad with the school logo, keyring with the school logo…you get the point 🙂  So the idea of everyone is a winner is still maintained but with the added incentive of extra rewards for higher placings.

In my school days, everything was a competition, not only sport.  Academics were a competition – the top of the class would get certificates, hobbies and crafts were competitive with craft shows and the best in category getting a prize, arts were competitive with art shows and poetry and prose recitals.  Yes, even my chess days were competitive 🙂
There’s nothing wrong with growing up in a competitive environment.  I do feel that there has to be a balance though as this totally competitive way of life allows those struggling to fall through the cracks without getting help but the lacklustre performance of the English team in many sporting arenas is testament to the idea that we really do need to bring back some sort of competitiveness in primary schools.

And aside from sport, learning to cope with competition, learning to cope with success and failure, learning to strive for more and be the best we can be, are all important aspects of becoming those adults who can cope in a reality that is not always nice and friendly or approachable and willing to help.  After all, we don’t want a population that cannot make decisions or cope with the simplest challenges in life.

Which brings me back to the game show I was watching today.  It is called Breakaway and the point of the show is to get as much money as possible (as is the case with most game shows).  Competitors have to either work as a team to answer questions or break away and answer the questions on their own to get all the money for themselves.  At certain points, they answer questions go get lives.  If they get an answer wrong as an individual, the team can take the life from them and if they are still part of the team and the team gets it wrong, they can save the money by using their life.  Now the show itself is quite competitive and can bring out the darker side of some people’s natures BUT and here is the part that makes me want to scream: the way the host talks to the competitors is kind of like going back to primary school (my daughter’s, not mine).  He actually tells the team not to be upset or angry with an individual if they decide to break away or if they decide not to use a life they earned to save the team’s money or (and this is the WTF part) if they win on their own!!!!

Now you are probably wondering why the host would treat these people as if they are incapable of handling, well, ANYTHING!  It goes back to the non-competitive characteristics that have been instilled in the young people of today and have now filtered through to all other things, including game shows.

And yes, I know the schools here have not always been this way but you cannot deny the correlation between non-competitiveness in schools and the gently-gently approach in the adult world.  Cameron is right.  We do need to change our attitudes and get a bit more competitive.   It is a necessary part of growing up…


Copyright  © 291012 by Karen Payze


  1. Schools in Northern Ireland have a sports day and the winners get a medal, you race to win, its not the taking part that counts , its winning counts

    • That’s what my schooling days were like but with a little something for the others but the main aim was to get one of the first three prizes 🙂

  2. I’ve heard about the softening of these school sports days, but never actually known of one happening. I’m tempted to believe that it’s an urban myth, or has only happened in a few isolated cases.

    And gameshows drive me mad anyway. Deal or No Deal… it’s just opening random boxes!

    • Ha ha I know, can’t watch Deal or no Deal but I don’t mind the Q & A ones 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: