Competition vs. Play

I read an article today that bemoaned those holiday camps where children's sports aren't "competitive." The author wondered if we're failing to teach our children to cope with life; after all, most people's adult lives will include some measure of failure, so how will they learn?

Coming to the States from England I was amazed how competitive children's lives are here. My sons used to play soccer every Saturday, but only one of them dreamed of being on a team; the others played for fun. Here they were only allowed to join in if they solemnly promised to turn up for every practice and compete in every match! Help.

I guess the question is who's going to measure the failure. Have I failed as a writer if I can't be JK Rowling or JRR Tolkein? Or am I just enjoying myself, doing the best I can and hopefully one day becoming "good enough." Perhaps allowing kids not to compete gives them the chance to judge themselves instead of accepting other peoples' judgement; it gives them permission to be good enough and decide for themselves if they'll ever aspire to be best; and it lets them play.

So no, I'll not complain about holiday camps with non-competitive sports. But I'll still regret the son who stopped playing because he knew he couldn't compete (and I couldn't lie to him).

Meanwhile I'll write, and have fun doing it.


maryrussel said…
There's merit to both sides of the argument. I'm not very competitive myself and there are times where a competitive spirit would be an advantage. But there also needs to be room for just doing things for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Cold As Heaven said…
We have both kinds of sports, competitive and non-competitive. My older boy (17yo) is competing in freestyle skiing in the winter and is serious about that. In the summer he plays in a soccer team with his buddies just for fun. They play on 3rd (and lowest) junior level, have a lot of fun, get some good exercise, and don't care much if they win or loose the matches.
Love and totally agree with your statement: "Perhaps allowing kids not to compete gives them the chance to judge themselves instead of accepting other peoples' judgement..."
Helen Ginger said…
Luckily, there seems to be opportunities for all kids. There are the competitive teams that require kids to commit, but there's also the groups that play for fun.

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