Is competition a losing proposition for kids?
I wanted to share this excellent article and podcast from my favourite radio and podcast station, NPR on winning in childrens' sport. As you will know this blog as all about providing coaches and parents with thoughts and ideas to help make the sporting experience for children better and I think that this sums up some of the challenges we face in trying to tackle the 'win / lose' question really well.
Working to change children's sport can create some pretty vitriolic responses from some quarters of the population so I totally get where this is coming from and it almost exactly sums up my stance on the topic. In my experience, competition for children can bring out the worst in otherwise well meaning and perfectly rational adults (take a look at the comments in the article for some pretty pointed examples!) and any discussion on the subject often descends into some pretty ugly exchanges.
I don't think that sports organisations help the situation sometimes either. Last year a county organsiation announced that it was changing its county tournament structure so that it was a festval format and had no semi finals and finals so therefore no overall winners. The response kicked up such a storm that it made national TV!
I'm not surprised that it got this kind of reponse, change like this never goes down well and if you add the emotive aspects that comes with the 'win vs lose' discussion then you may as well light the blue touch paper and stand back!
Why not offer both experiences. A fully competeitive offer with semi finals and finals and shiny cups and a competitive offer with winning deemphasised that has no final but everyone gets a medal. They could then compare and contrast the experience for the players and the kids could experience both and judge for themselves which one was most suitable going forward.
What, give children choice? That's just crazy talk!