Social Question

ahro0703's avatar

Is competitive sports good for youth?

Asked by ahro0703 (376points) October 27th, 2014

Competitive sports mean that you state the order and the winner.
My friends are interested in competitive sports these days, and I want to know your opinion about competitive sports. Do you think it is good for youth? Or do you disagree with competitive sports for youth? I would also like answers that tell some experiences you played in a competitive sport.

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49 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Oh yeah. You learn the difference between winning and losing. And how to handle both.
And I think it’s are.

snowberry's avatar

As a kid, I hated all organized competitive sports, but mostly I think it was because I had vision trouble that eyeglasses couldn’t correct.

But understanding why it happened the way it did doesn’t change my memory of those dismal days. I dislike competitive sports to this day.

Answer: It’s probably great for most/many kids. Certainly not everyone.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Oh crap, if your eyes are messing with you anything is tough.

snowberry's avatar

As I think about this more, I know boys love to compare themselves against other boys, even up to “My daddy can beat up your daddy!” and everything else it seems. Growing up a girl, I also never felt the desire to compare myself against other people. They did that plenty themselves (bullying). Competitive sports were just another arena for bullying as far as I was concerned.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@snowberry No, it’s about the team. I got as big a thrill from making the perfect pass so someone could make an easy score as I did from scoring myself. If I could draw the defensive player out and make them look silly so my guy could have an easy score was fun. Oops, I guess I am a bully.

snowberry's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Nobody ever wanted me on their team. I was always picked last, amid groans. So….Yeah.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@snowberry Hey you can be on my team anytime. :)

snowberry's avatar

:D Thanks! Life is easier as an adult.

ucme's avatar

All kinds of yes!

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

anything that gets them off the computer or the smart phone is ok in my book.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is good as one of the many choices for activities for children. I wasn’t I to team sports. I liked tennis and ballet. Some children love team sports. I don’t believe in everyone who participates gets a trophy. I will say at very young ages I don’t think winning and losing should be emphasized. There should be skill building and positive reinforcement.

Some children participate in interests that are not competitive at first glance. Art, dance, an instrument. In life those can become competitive, but the focus is the skills being perfected.

Pachy's avatar

I think so. As an adult I’ve felt I missed out on some of the pros mentioned above by not having been encouraged by my parents to participate in team sports.

CWOTUS's avatar

It depends on what you mean by “competitive sports”. For several years when my kids were in elementary and junior high school I managed a recreational youth soccer league in Michigan. We had over 1200 kids playing at every age level from kindergarten to high school, and we catered to all skill levels, too.

At the youngest age level, we simply encouraged the kids to get out and kick the ball around the field, hopefully in a gradually more-and-more “organized” and “team-like” way. No scores were kept, and because there was no official scoring there was no “team standing”, either. But you can bet that the kids keep score; it’s a pretty natural thing, I think.

Even at the older age groups where we did keep score and maintain team standings for the various divisions, the primary emphasis was on good sportsmanship, “everybody plays” and developing teamwork. Always.

Beyond the rec soccer league, there are various levels of “traveling soccer”, where the most skilled and dedicated players (and their families!) are recruited to develop into highly competitive teams where the focus is on winning at all reasonable cost. In those leagues, play time is based on other factors than simply showing up at the field, but that’s okay, too – for that level of player, and someone who has signed on to play that way.

But “competition” seems to be hard-wired into most of us. Else why are we counting lurve?

snowberry's avatar

@CWOTUS If there was a way to turn off the lurve counter, I’d have done it at 10 K. I tried. It’s kind of a pain living in a world where you always have to measure yourself up against other people, or people are always measuring themselves against you. Some of us don’t fit the mold society has carved out for us. I’m definitely one of those people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think so, unless the kid is forced into some competitive sport that he or she doesn’t want to play.

I get @snowberry!

snowberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III It’s called school. And it sucked.

Edit: There you had no choice but to play competitive sports. And again in the classroom where they grade on the curve. It’s everywhere. Gotta love it.

snowberry's avatar

I meant to say I didn’t have to join a team, we just played tennis, or softball or dodgeball or whatever the teacher cooked up for the class when I was in school. They did keep score, and so on, and in that sense it was competitive.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I used to play competitive co-ed volley ball. Some of those guys were just monsters, semi-pro beach players.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Competitive sport is great for most kids. It will teach them a love of fitness, how to win and lose graciously, visuo-spatial skills, and how to maintain morale when they’re losing from the very beginning. The “everyone gets a ribbon” approach is a terrible idea. Kids should get prizes for winning, or playing their hardest. Not for just showing up.

longgone's avatar

I’m torn on this. I don’t like the fact that our world is always asking for the “winner”, but competition does present a thrill many people crave.

OTOH, It could be argued that the “everyone gets a ribbon”-mentality actually teaches a valuable lesson: Joining in feels good. Always.

snowberry's avatar

I also think the competition thing is a western mindset. Other parts of the world are more group oriented, such as indigenous cultures. Many of them don’t have competitions of any kind.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I don’t know. That Chinese ping pong player was pretty overjoyed when he won.

The Mayans played that basketball like game.

I’m sure there are more examples.

However, you did make me think of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy and how the Coke bottle changed a perfectly harmonious primitive community in Africa into being selfish and less cooperative.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@longgone I don’t think it’s about the thrill as such. It’s more about teaching children to grow as people, so they can rise to the level of the competition they faced. When I was a kid, I played soccer. Because my birthday was early in the year, I was at one stage put up into the team a year older than the one I had been playing with. I wasn’t the best player by any stretch, but I could hold my own in defence. In the new team though, I was terrible. It was one of the best things I did as a kid though, because I grew as a person and a player until by the end of the first season, I was actually not too bad relative to those older players. When I switched to a different club, and dropped back to my original age group, I found myself with a reputation as a good defender.

The reason I don’t like the “everyone gets a ribbon” approach, is because it teaches children that participating is more important than putting in effort. Participating is great, at first. But it should never be regarded as enough. Children need to be taught to push the boundaries of their own capabilities, and often they will surprise themselves as to how high they can fly. Participating for no reward has its benefits too, as it teaches humility. Too often, we try to make childhood an idealised paradise, when in fact it is a chance to teach life skills in a fun way. I don’t want a young person’s first experience of failure to be when it takes them six months to find a graduate job, or when their boss tells them their work is not up to standard. If they’ve never failed before, that will shatter them. If they have, they’ll know how to suck it up and do better next time.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie Agreed. The world has become much more homogenized, and at this point I don’t think any cultures are unaffected by any other, but every once in a while we find a new one. Still, we know that competition does not have to be part of the human make up.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I disagree @snowberry. Sports and competition are part of our genetic heritage. In the wild, the strongest, the fastest were a huge asset to any tribe. Now that we don’t need those skills as much as we need our brains, competitive sport is a logical release. I, for one, was very competitive.

I doubt there are any peoples in the world who don’t have some sort of competition. Kids just do it naturally. My one year old Zoey does things above and beyond. When she first learned to stand, 8 months, she’d also test her ability to balance, by flapping things as she was standing.

Her two year old sister made up a “trick.” She goes down on all fours, then raises one let and one arm and twists them behind her back. For the finale she hops up on that one knee and lands in a kneeling position, arms up.

Kids made up the games of hide and go seek ( useful skills for survival in the wild) and tag and a thousand other competitive games.

It’s totally in our nature.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry @Dutchess_III I don’t think competition is necessary. It might seem necessary because of how our society works, but in another society it might be completely unnecessary and that society could function just fine. I am not competitive by nature. I think it does make me less ambitious, and probably less “successful.” I don’t care. I wish it didn’t matter so much. I really care about being great at My job. I want to do it well and be noticed for it. I don’t think of that as a a competition though. When I play a game or sport I like to be well matched with my openent and win sometimes and lose sometimes and learn new strategies from them.

I like teamwork. I like everyone helping for a common goal. I like sharing. I like caring.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Dutchess_III Agreed. Competition is what drives us to do better each time. Even if the competition is against one’s self to do better than the last time. I was really quite lazy for most of my schooling. I went to a small high school that didn’t have much of an academic environment, so I was able to come first in most subjects without breaking a sweat. The final two years though, I moved to a much larger school, where all the students were pushed to do their best. In my first maths test, I came second last. I felt humiliated with that ranking, and vowed it would never happen again. It didn’t, and I finished that subject about 15 places higher. I was never the natural sportsman, so I didn’t think I was competitive. But once I found myself far behind in what should’ve been my domain, suddenly I was spurred into action.

We all have standards, and they are generally set by our interpretation of our environment. If we dip below those standards, we work hard to correct it. That’s competition right there. But generally we only call someone competitive if they are only ever happy with being the best – the Ayrton Senna approach, “To come second is to be the first of all the losers.”

Bill1939's avatar

I believe that competition is instinctive. However, I do not see how it is necessary to enable one to challenge oneself to do better than they have done. Because competition requires the separation of self (including an extension of self to a group) from others, it encourages the importance of one’s ego and diminishes the possibility of recognizing their connection with anything outside of self. When humans are more than merely animals driven by instinctual imperatives, their need for competitiveness will have been replaced with a desire to improve the well-being of others and their world.

JLeslie's avatar

Those of you who feel competition is instinctive, were you competitive with your siblings? Just born that way? I wasn’t. I played with my sister, took care of her, shared with her, tried to help her. There were times we fought, but overall I don’t feel in competition with people.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie I wasn’t competitive with my siblings at all. Never even entered the equation. But I still hated giving up two points to anyone down low.

JLeslie's avatar

What does that mean? Giving up two points down low?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Giving up a basket to anyone down in the paint. I’m 6’1” and I played center or forward.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think anyone should give up anything when playing a sport. I play to win. It just doesn’t bother me much if I don’t. Especially if I win sometimes and lose sometimes. I like playing.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think sometimes you have to lose, just so you know how that feels. It makes the winning something you can appreciate more, and you can commiserate more with someone on the other side.

CWOTUS's avatar

@Bill1939 did you find that on my favorite New Age BS site? I have a very good vocabulary, but I am sitting here shaking my head trying to make sense of “WTF did he just say?”

Will requires exploration.
Rebirth is the driver of purpose. Divinity is the growth of health, and of us.
Humankind has nothing to lose.

Reality has always been overflowing with dreamers whose souls are nurtured by learning. Our conversations with other beings have led to a maturing of hyper-quantum consciousness. We are at a crossroads of fulfillment and ego.

We are in the midst of an astral flowering of life that will tap into the infinite itself. Who are we? Where on the great myth will we be guided? Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the biosphere via pulses.

You must take a stand against stagnation. Without ecstasy, one cannot heal. The complexity of the present time seems to demand an evolving of our dreams if we are going to survive.

The cosmos is calling to you via pulses. Can you hear it?

You will soon be recreated by a power deep within yourself — a power that is ethereal, astral. Through feng shui, our dreams are immersed in guidance. Acupuncture may be the solution to what’s holding you back from a magnificent transmission of stardust.

Wanderer, look within and bless yourself. How should you navigate this cosmic quantum soup? Although you may not realize it, you are transformative.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s not like competition overwhelms our lives. That’s not what I’m saying. And I agree, for the most part it really isn’t needed in today’s society.

However, you can’t undo millions of years of evolution in a couple centuries.

Even if you fought “once in a while” with your siblings, you were in competition over something. Who had the right to play with that toy, or whatever.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III Oh come on. You never licked the rim of the Burger King character glass that you and your sibling both wanted? I completely forgot about that till your comment.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOLL!! No, I was never in that kind of competition with my sisters. Probably because I was the oldest, by 3 and 4 years, so I was in more of a taking care of them mode. But yeah…that’s the kind of thing they’d do to each other! Oh, that was funny @Adirondackwannabe! :D :D :D!

But when I was in 4th grade the brats stole the rolling papers I’d stolen from Shopeze, and we had a battle from Seattle over them. Dad came up to see what the ruckus was about…and boy, did I get in trouble! I didn’t even know what they were when I stole them! My side kick, Bonnie, and I, had taken them to write spy notes on…..

rojo's avatar

Yes, in one form or another, either playing, coaching or cajoling my kids I have been involved with competitive sports for at least 50 years and I can say that, while not 100 %, they have a much more positive impact than negative.
Both my kids played in competitive soccer leagues growing up and both have expressed to me how thankful (now) they are that they did. As someone (I am too lazy to scroll up, maybe @Adirondackwannabe said) It teaches them both to win and to lose and to deal with both outcomes. It also pushes them to achieve more than they believe they are capable of.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie I was always in competition with my brother. When I was very young that was futile, since he has such a powerful personality, but it was always there. When I got older, and particularly when I started to win in some things, it got quite intense at times. We’re best mates now, but only really grew close once we started going to different schools.
.
– When I was 3, mum started home schooling him in preparation for school. I couldn’t help but be curious, and then I wanted to do better. I could read before I turned 4.
– When I was 12, we played soccer. He was two age groups ahead, but there weren’t enough players to field a team, so I subbed up and played two matches nearly every Sunday. The coach put us on opposite sides of the field most weeks.
– When I was 15, I finally grew to his height, and started to grow taller. He refused to stand next to me whenever the topic came up.
– When I was 18 and studying for university, he came home from his university for holidays. I challenged him to run to the creek behind our house and back while I took a break. Despite my exercise level being far more deliberate and intense than his, his innate competitiveness meant he won by a good 10 metres.
– Now, in our 20s, we lead such different lives that competition is nearly irrelevant. But despite my 4 years of on and off martial arts training (compared to his big fat 0), he still boasts that he can beat me up whenever he chooses.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I think the younger sibling is always more likely to feel in competition or envy. I’ve talked about it regarding girls, I don’t know much about boys and their dynamic.

I think quite often a younger girl sib looks at am older sister as prettier, more confident, and more successful when they are growing up. It has almost nothing to do with the reality of their beauty or personality; it has to do with age. The older we are the more freedom we are given, the more we can communicate well, and for girls as we move into preteen our clothes look more grown up, we start looking more feminine. Since almost all kids want to be “grown” up, starting to look grown up with higher healed shoes, make up, fancier hair styles, puts the younger in a place of wanting to catch up to her sister and sometimes not feeling caught up for many many years.

I know my sister thought I was the pretty one. I always thought she was the cutest and when I look back at photos she was. She had nicer hair and was super cute when we were very little. She was the one you would want to squeeze and cuddle and she would giggle. When I was a kid I thought the younger child was always cuter, because not only was my sister cuter, but one of my friends had a cuter younger sister also.

She had a slight speech impediment when she was young and I don’t even remember it. She had a little tougher time at school when we were little. I think she noticed and those things affected her comparing to me, but I was completely unaware as a child. I only know this stuff having been told as an adult.

For me she was someone I would spin around, watch TV with, sleigh ride with, climb monkey bars, ride bikes, do cartwheels, paint nails, made food. I never thought in terms of whether I was able to do some of those things better or not. I was older, so some of the things I could do better at a given time.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Fair enough. Equally, I don’t understand how girls grow up. Obviously my point of view so far has been from the masculine perspective. Maybe a girl’s tendency to nurture overrides any competitive instinct. Every facet of my interaction with my brother was competitive, while my mum desperately tried to keep it under control. We’d race in running and swimming, and mum would stop us bragging or fighting by saying I was the better swimmer, and he was the better runner, and “you both have your talents”. Maybe having a sister would’ve led to a calmer household!

JLeslie's avatar

The question within my mind would be, with everything I wrote about my sister and me I wonder if she would say she felt in competition? Her perspective about the same events might be ver different.

I see my husband much more competitive than myself and it certainly makes him a better provider. In the traditional male and female roles I see how his talent and desire for competition is useful and how my teamwork oriented personality would be useful in a domestic setting.

Bill1939's avatar

@CWOTUS I have never heard of “my favorite New Age BS site.” I write what I think. Obviously, what I have read, heard or thought in the past makes up my current thinking. I am sorry if what I wrote left you wondering “WTF did he (I assume you meant me) just say?” However, I cannot see how what I wrote is anything like the “BS” that I presume you were quoting in the italicized parts (which by the way seems nonsensical to me) of what you wrote.

I believe that social evolution may and should lead from viewing reality as revolving about oneself to recognizing that we are all part of a greater whole, and that rather than only being concerned with our desires (which our genes would have us do) we should at least include the wants and needs of others.

Perhaps saying “a desire to improve the well-being of others and their world” sounds too “new age,” you reflexively rejected my point, which is clearly anti-Ayn Rand. I do believe greater altruism is a desirable goal and do not believe her philosophy of greed being good.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Bill1939 I think the work of Frans de Waal shows that our genetics actually do favour cooperation. Evolution is about group selection as well as individual selection. A highly evolved but perfectly selfish species would quickly go extinct.

CWOTUS's avatar

No, @Bill1939, I didn’t (and don’t) reflexively reject your final point – which did actually make perfect sense – because I was put off by because competition requires the separation of self (including an extension of self to a group) from others, it encourages the importance of one’s ego and diminishes the possibility of recognizing their connection with anything outside of self which did (and does) seem to be a load of codswallop.

Competition occurs on many levels: individual, as you seem to be fixated upon; partnerships, teams, families and other chosen groups, and geographic / national groupings. In the Hobbesian world which you seem to imagine Rand promotes, there would be zero opportunity for altruism. Among human groups (and even some of what we refer to as “the lower orders”, including insects), competition is what has driven the improvements in our world. You sit around the campfire chanting Kumbaya, and I’ll be sharpening drills with my team, improving our profits, and later we can compare notes on which group made improvements in the world, whether consciously or not.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “a little greed”. As with any human endeavor, a monomaniacal drive to “get all the things” would be destructive. You show me one person working on that kind of single-mined pursuit (for real, not just “Well, the Koch brothers, obviously!”), and I’ll show you a thousand working on the single-mined pursuit of “Sharing what belongs to someone else – for the common good.” (I’m not aware of any human monomania that has an overall good outcome – including altruism.)

Whether the idea appeals to you or not, and regardless of our inclusion in “the whole universe” and various subsets, we are each and all separate and we do best when we keep that in mind, instead of imagining that we’re part of some kind of collective.

To get back to the point of the question: Yes, “to an extent” competitive sports are good, to the degree that they spur improvement in ways that would not likely occur without such head-to-head or team-to-team manufactured “conflict”. (And when the competition involves fair play all around and does not evolve into “hatred of the other team”.) When kids start wearing different colors and killing each other for “wearing someone else’s color”, then obviously things have gotten perverted. And that’s my point.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it takes all kinds. Competitors to protect and hunt, and nurturers to to tend and help. I think we all have some of both but not in equal amounts.

Bill1939's avatar

@CWOTUS clearly I am the one that missed the point, for which I apologize. Though it seems to me that competition is too frequently used to reinforce the experience of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ to the detriment of ‘we’ working cooperatively, my attempt to make a distinction between ‘we’ and ‘us’ may be problematic.

I have seen how otherwise disparate groups can and do work together. In my small city, the ministerial alliance endeavors to provide sustenance to the poor, which unfortunately are a significant proportion of our population. People from all walks of life, beliefs and non-beliefs collect canned goods and raise money at sporting events to help those in need. Students voluntarily participate in high school programs that teach construction skills while working with Habitat for Humanity providing the labor to build homes for the homeless.

In my younger years, I was active in Scouting where both competition and “Kumbaya” were essential parts and, I am sure, still are. Coaches then and now usually encourage sportsmanship during and after games. In addition, in recent years our society is seeking to be more inclusive of beliefs and practices by others, though many strongly resist.

However, I have also seen how rivalries between churches, schools and cities have made cooperative endeavors more difficult. Racial and economic distinctions are promoted by conservative and progressive politicians seeking to be elected this November, and for the last six years the political divide has all but rendered the Federal Government impotent.

It may be impossible for people to be free from focusing upon desires arising from animal instincts, least of all the need to feel that they belong to family, clan, community and nation. Nevertheless, it is possible to extend the sense of belonging beyond this, and it is this greater inclusion of one’s sense of identity that I wish to encourage.

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