Sports Day : Competitive Or Non Competitive

It’s that time of the year when primary and junior schools will be holding their sports day, and as per usual it will bring up the subject of whether they should be competitive or non-competitive.

It of course is entirely up to schools how they wish to approach sports day. The school our seven year old twin girls attend has a sports day that is competitive and I for one am completely happy with that. They give a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in all the races and I cannot see anything wrong with that. It is teaching my girls to try their best to win the race and show desire and belief that they can win, but they also have to learn that not winning is not the end of the world, and possibly try a bit harder next time.

There is of course teaching them that winning is fantastic, but don’t gloat over those you have beaten but also to be a gracious loser.

In these early days of their lives they are learning that if you want to succeed in life it takes effort and determination to achieve your goals and that applies to both academic and sporting success. It all takes desire l, and winning on sports day can help them in adulthood. Let’s be fair, life as an adult working your way up the job scale is tough and these early lessons in winning and losing will be of huge benefit. As long as they are taught fairness and doing it the right way I see no problem with competitive sports day.

Of course many schools have a non-competitive sports day where there are there no winners or losers and for me the lesson the children learn from this is that even if they are last it doesn’t matter, but the danger of being last could be taken into adulthood then we would have a generation of children that don’t have any drive or ambition to be the best they can in their chosen career and could quite often settle for second best.

We need to produce winners in life, whether that be sporting or in business. A non-competitive sports day will undoubtedly produce non-winners in life. In my humble opinion like it or not sport and commerce needs winners from every generation, and that begins finding them in primary school.

There will always be winners and losers in life and I think we need to teach our young children it’s ok to win and be gracious, and it is also ok to lose, but we should inspire them to be better and hopefully teach them to win next time.

What do you think? Should sports day be competitive or non-competitive? I would love to hear in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Sports Day : Competitive Or Non Competitive

  1. Och, competitive, hands down. This argument comes up every year and it’s like peeling an onion. You can remove sports day or make in noncompetitive to accommodate the three kids at the school who really hate it, but where does it stop? Do you ban exams because kids hate them? Do you stop school trips because some kids don’t like being too far away from home? Do you stop teaching maths because some kids find it hard? I also think of my eldest who competed in a gymnastic competition a couple of years ago. She won a medal, not gold, not silver but bronze. Going home with that bronze medal did more to encourage her interest in sport and boosted her confidence more than many other activities she has done. Also, remove sports day and you actually remove the chance for children to fail. They have to fail from time to time to learn how to bounce back. Right Nigel, I’ve left you an essay here. I’d better go, sure you have better things to do! As ever, thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  2. I agree with you and John – 10% competitive.
    I was never really any goods at sports days sports when I was at school, but that didn’t stop me trying. Learning that to win or succeed at anything requires a bit of effort isn’t a bad life lesson for children to learn. Most sports (at least sports day ones) are easily administered in the sense that someone comes first, second, third and so on. But our girls also do dance competitions and that is all about being judged. That can be harder to deal with, but this is something they have chosen to do so they know that to place means you’ve been scored well and to not place means you haven’t scored as well as others. They take it well to be honest – better than I do anyway!

  3. my son has autism and really struggles with sports day, I just try to focus on having fun and doing your best that is all I am for him in life. I am not very competitive so probably echos that message X #thatfridaylinky

  4. Oh, competitive!!! As you put it, Nige, kids in that situation will learn some essential life lessons. Life is competitive. But there is also room to encourage effort and endeavour, fair play and grace when you don’t take the gold, silver, or even bronze! At least put in your best effort. My son, for example, has fired all of his, what he dismissively calls “participation medals” into a plastic bag, and they mean nothing to him … but the trophies he got for winning, or close enough, he displays in his room! #ThatFridayLinky

  5. I definitely think competitive. My son is useless at sports. He loves participating but he is always last. So firstly this is a great lesson in teaching him to lose. More importantly, I love seeing those children who may not be the best academically being celebrated for being great sports people. They may spend the entire year in the bottom groups for Maths and English (because lets face it even though they may have fancy names, children know which groups are top, middle and bottom!) this could be there one chance to shine! #ThatFridayLinky

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