Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Competitive Sport in School

Once again (is this an annual debate I wonder) we're having a debate about competitive sport in schools. At least on BBC Breakfast we are. There are those who say life is competitive so get on with with it and there are those who have been put off sport for life because it was, or seemed to be, all about winning and losing.

Now I have to be honest and say that there are times when I've got quite frustrated by those who advocate a completely non-competitive approach to sport at school. Competing is a fundamental part of sport and learning to do so in an honourable and healthy way is a good thing. But, if we fail to recognise that there are many people for whom competing is not the goal, then we are doing them a great disservice by making them think that if you can't win it's not worth the effort in the first place.  We need some perspective. How many children and young people playing sport at school go on to play professionally? Very few. For every 25 children playing tennis at a local club perhaps only 2 or 3 will still be playing in their late teens. Some may return later in life, but many will simply find something else to do with their time, especially when work and other life pressures are added.

So what we need is a strategy that encourages the widest possible participation and that teaches everyone from children to adults that sport is good in and of itself without having to win anything, and that playing sport to improve is just as significant as playing to win something. We need to stop debating competitive versus non-competitive and start discussing participation and the proper place for competition.

And last but not least, those of us who can play need to encourage those who struggle to have fun trying.

No comments: