“Competing?”

I had gym class every day in elementary school and played hard on the playground during morning and afternoon recess. Once a year the whole school community gathered for Field Day, an event with a myriad of events and a chicken dinner at the end. My school had about 200 kids in it, so it was quite a gathering.

My late sister Patsy was a much faster runner than I was, and here she sports the second place red ribbon for the dash in her grade. First, second and third place ribbons were awarded in many competitions. Entering was optional, but most of us entered everything. Most fun for me, not much of an athlete, were the three legged sack race and the egg carry. Each was so comical that when we collapsed in hysterics tangled up in a burlap bag or looking at a broken egg no one cared who won.

I have loved reading the comments that have come in around my post about learning to lose. It is refreshing to see disagreement among my readers thoughtfully expressed. You have enlarged my thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of competition. You have also reminded me of something I had begun to forget over the last four years. We can respectfully disagree even about charged subjects such as the aim of education and the raising of children.

If you didn’t chime in yesterday, please feel free to add your thoughts about competition, winners, losers and contests. I will share more of my own experiences, both athletic and academic tomorrow.

19 thoughts on ““Competing?”

  1. There were some very interesting points raised in comments to yesterday’s post. The main lesson we all must learn is that everyone has the right to their own opinion, and the right to express it. We, in turn, must be respectful of that opinion even when we disagree with it. In todays society it is more common for a combative stance to be adopted right from the start and terminology is often used to exacerbate this. eg war, battle, fight, struggle etc.

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  2. I once won the 100 yards sprint at a school competition. I was ten years old, and not expected to come in the first four of the six runners. I was so surprised to win, I went to ask the teacher if it was really true. I was so proud when I told my dad at home later. But he shrugged and said, “Shame you’re no good at football’. (Soccer) That was a sure way to discourage competition in me.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. We should be able to disagree with someone without insults. I weighed in yesterday but didn’t read the give and take. I think that a certain amount of competition is healthy as no one always wins. How we deal with and learn from those setbacks is important in many aspects (not just athletically) of our lives.

    We always used to have an annual Field Day at the elementary I taught at. It was an afternoon of fun rather than competition. Each teacher organized an event and all of the kids rotated through.

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  4. As one who avoided sport whenever I could at school, I opted to be a goalkeeper in hockey, so I could spend half the lesson getting kitted out in pads and kickers. The downside of this was that – being half the available class goalkeepers – I found myself playing during lunchtime in the end of year class tournament. Not my choice of a lunch break activity.
    It seems fitting that my only sports day success was in the slow bicycle race where I came second one year. Apparently I could have come first if I’d not given up and cycled for the winning line too soon. Since there was nobody in front of me, I’d assumed half the field was still upright behind me.

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  5. Field day was the best day of the whole school year! We didn’t have a chicken dinner at the end, we got to have a picnic which was way better because there was potato chips in our little brown bag and a great big cookie, neither of which were ever served at our regular lunch!

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  6. I was a successful sprinter, but not great at long distance runs. I was also excellent at the ‘standing broad jump’. We always had ‘field days’ which were welcome alternatives to sitting inside the classroom.

    I think we put too much influence on winning. It leaves a sense that one person or one team is far superior when often the distance between a winner and a runner up is minute. Learning to lose is a phrase I am not fond of, but I think we should always congratulate those who had the skill or expertise to outpace us.

    I am not a fan for rewarding participating. I think it makes us lazy competitors. I always want to encourage the desire to reach for achievement. When someone else wins, it should be treated as motivation, not admonished for letting someone down.

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  7. this has nothing to do with sport…

    About 2 decades ago when I was fairly successful “hand weaver” I entered 2 of my woven knee rugs in a competition. I sent them away and I felt they were great.

    At the same time, another master type weaver, asked me if I had any knee rugs and if so could she buy them as she had a commission. I said “yes…” she picked them up from my home, and later that evening she phoned to say “these are not the correct size…” I was stunned. Then she said “did you enter this size in that competition? If you did you’ll have them sent back with FAIL”

    I phoned her 3 nights later to say “it appears they are not to be labelled FAIL, they have won 2nd prize in the show and are being exhibited” – There was absolute silence… then she said “well do you still want to sell me your spares?” “me, hell no!” and I hang up the phone…

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