Come on! It’s the winning that counts! No one remembers second place.

The soccer World Cup is starting any day soon, the All Blacks have won their opening game against England, netball is well underway, the Black Caps are playing the West Indies and the next Olympic Games are only a couple of years away. Competition is all around us.

If you’re not a winner then, well, what?

And there’s not enough competition around. Playing and working to beat others or get the prize is what it’s all about. Companies offer competitions and prizes, reward you for buying their products. They should offer more – we want to win more. It promotes a good attitude – working harder to get what you want.

Even the Olympic Games has that as its motto: faster, higher, stronger. They might as well say ‘fastest, highest, strongest ‘ because no one cares who got the silver medal. We only want to be the best – and beat the rest.

Schools are far too often concerned with making sure that everyone has a go, or that everyone gets the same amount of time on court or on the pitch, that it’s the taking part that counts. What nonsense! Everyone likes to win – that’s what real life is about.

But there is competition in the classrooms – scores in tests, spelling results, exams, scholarships, prizes, sports tournaments, house points, certificates – and it makes students better. It’s a way of motivating them to work harder; you work harder to get a better result next time, but you also work harder to try and beat classmates! Good work, a fine win on the netball court or rugby pitch should be recognised. Why wait until adulthood to compete and participate in tough sporting competition? Let’s start it at primary school – or earlier…

After all, competition builds character and creates excellence. What’s wrong with having more of it?

Article written by Ben Egerton

[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box] 

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. What’s wrong with having too much competition in schools? Is there such a thing as too much competition? What might the negatives be?

2. ‘Competition builds character and creates excellence’. How?


[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. Make a list of all the sports, tasks and classroom activities that take place in your school that you consider to be competitive, or have a competitive element (e.g. music/drama auditions, sports trials, spelling tests, house points, class prizes, test scores). Does the list surprise you? Why?

2. This article is obviously written from a very one-sided position. Write the other side of the argument. You could use both articles to have a debate or discussion with your class.

[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say:
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