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When it comes to children and sports – is it really the taking part that counts?
“But it’s the taking part that counts” is a phrase often heard this time of year. At school sports days many parents are forced to explain that there are always winners and losers. But is this right?
Sports days are fast approaching and they’re usually great fun: lessons are cancelled and parents can come and watch their kids compete. And this year the kids seem to be even more enthused with the Olympics coming up. But it can be hard to explain to a child who has come last in a race that it doesn’t matter, when the winners are getting applause and prizes.
We all know that not everyone can be a winner and a little competitiveness is healthy, but that concept is much harder to understand as a child. So why is it that in PE the winners and losers alike are announced to the entire class? It would be shocking to think of the same scenario happening in Maths or English. Can you imagine your child’s spelling and arithmetic scores being read out? At best it would be humiliating, at worst, a weakness for bullies to target. So why is this ok in PE?
There’s a fine line between being realistic and being too PC. Sports days need to be competitive enough to enhance the positives of competition. But not too PC by having all the children as “winners” which is unrealistic and sets them up for disappointment in later life.
So we’ll keep encouraging our children to do their best. But all mums know as long as our kids are happy, it’s the taking part that counts. So what should schools do? Introduce the concept of winning in all subjects, or remain the same and keep competition to the sports field?
Is it fair winners and losers are only announced in sport? Would you like it to be introduced in other lessons? Or do you hate children’s ability being labelled? We’d love to know what you think, so let us know and share with friends.