The importance of competitive sport
‘There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition’ – a phrase that’s often heard around the playground, the football pitch, the field. And it’s true. Competition in sport leads to development, especially within young children.
Without question, many key life lessons can be learned on the sports field. Blood, sweat and tears all form fundamental life lessons, as well as teamwork, dedication and commitment which all come from being part of a group.
‘Teams that have a good coach, win a lot of games. Teams that play for each other, win championships.’
So what life lessons can kids learn when playing competitive sport?
The management of failure
Sport acts as a metaphor for life, and the management of failure is a key skill that transfers into the real world. Competitive sport gives kids valuable insight into losing and being defeated, not just winning. This is something that life will throw at you, often with no warning. Sport therefore teaches kids to prepare for when this happens, and how to build yourself back up and become stronger.
‘Children need to develop the feeling of losing and moving on to help deal with negative experiences.’
Novak Djokovic Foundation
One of sport’s greatest achievements is potentially its ability to bring people from different backgrounds together. From a young age, competitive sport allows kids to understand the different characteristics of diversity, as well as cultural differences and even religious practices.
The importance of preparation and dedication
To win and compete within sport, preparation and dedication to your craft is essential. Kids quickly learn from a young age that nothing is won without sacrifice and hard work. This is another testament to competing in sport, as kids can often translate these principles into education and their working life.
The relationship between preparation and success is a well-known fact that nobody can escape.
How to forge friendships
Some of the strongest friendships are made on the sports fields. Win or lose, everything is done together. From preparation on the training pitch to major cup finals, you do everything as a team. It’s rare that strong and important bonds aren’t made during these processes, as you have the ability to socialise with people who enjoy the game as much as you do.
Competitive sport is a common place where this can happen, as you need to trust each other and (for the most part) get along with your teammates to succeed.
‘Football was an engine of social mobility. It incubates meritocracy.’
Sir Alex Ferguson
Amongst its wealth of benefits, competitive sport’s importance extends beyond its ability to improve and enrich children’s lives. The honesty of it is what makes it so great. If you deserve to compete, you will. And ultimately there are no true losses, only valuable life lessons.
‘I never lose. I either win or learn.’
Is competitive sport the be all and end all?
In short, no. Although playing to win is the common goal of all teams, there are other important aspects which must be considered. For example, it’s important that parents’ ambitions aren’t manifested through their kids. The child’s enjoyment and their overall experience should be placed above everything else when playing sport.
The competition also has to be fair and motivating for everyone involved. Nobody benefits from playing at the wrong level and nobody wants to turn up and play a team that isn’t suited to them. That’s why sports tournaments should be conducted properly to avoid miss-matched fixtures. Despite this, there will always be a clear winner and that should never change within competitive sport.
Sport is often the helping hand for parents – and who are we to take that away from them?
Valuable life lessons are learnt and key developments are made within competition, I say long live competitive sport.