Competitive sport puts off schoolchildren - survey

Seven-year-olds competing in sport

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The majority of children would be happy to see the competitive element removed from school sport, a survey suggests.

Almost two thirds (64%) of eight to 16-year-olds polled said they would be "relieved, not bothered or happier" if winning or losing were not a factor.

However, 22% of parents said they would have less interest in watching school sport if it was not competitive.

The poll, by Marylebone Cricket Club and charity Chance to Shine, surveyed 1,000 children and 1,000 parents.

Although 84% of children believed experiencing winning and losing was important, the survey revealed that many would rather play sport for fun, or would be relieved if less was at stake.

Start Quote

It is worrying to see that so many children would be relieved to see competition removed from sport”

End Quote Wasim Khan Chance to Shine CEO
'Less anxious'

Asked how they would feel if winning and losing was removed from sport, 30.3% responded that "as long as I get to play I'm fine with it", one in five said "it wouldn't bother me" and one in 10 said "it would make me less anxious".

The figures have caused concern at Chance to Shine, which seeks to increase cricket participation in state schools.

"It is worrying to see that so many children would be relieved to see competition removed from sport," said the organisation's chief executive Wasim Khan.

"We want to teach children the importance of playing sport competitively and fairly and for them to see the benefits that it can bring to their lives."

The survey also found that 89.3% of parents of eight to 16-year-olds believed it was "important" or "very important" for their children to taste victory or defeat in sport.

Just under two in five (39%) children said their parents would be less interested without a competitive factor.

Children playing cricket Chance to Shine wants to stress the importance of competitive sport and fair play in schools.
Pushy parents

The poll also suggests that pushy parents who shout orders at their offspring from the touchlines are on the rise.

About 86% of the children surveyed, along with 97% of the parents, said that they felt some mothers and fathers were more concerned about winning than the children themselves.

Asked what was most important about school sport, both parents and children agreed that teamwork and exercise were the key aspects.

The study follows a report by education watchdog Ofsted last year that said there was not enough strenuous physical activity in school PE lessons.

In February, the government pledged to award primary schools in England £150m per year in sports funding in an effort to restore PE to the heart of the timetable and capitalise on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.

Chance to Shine is launching a campaign to stress the importance of competitive sport and fair play in schools.

Coaches will give assemblies and lessons to 420,000 children in 5,500 state schools.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Life is competitive. Kids need to learn to accept both success and failure, as otherwise how will they accept as adults that somone may get the job they want, that they may fail a test, come 1000th in a marathon or that a workmate may get promoted over them. Competition breeds apiration and drive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Simply a taste of things to come for "normal state educated" children , I enjoyed the competitive aspect of sports at school , some I won some I lost but it instilled in me that I have to work hard to get the results I wanted....

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Hardly surprising, by its nature a majority will be ‘also rans’ in every competitive event. People soon realise when they have less aptitude than others at something.

    True, kids have to learn about failure, but failing week after week is demoralising, and turns many completely off sport once they've left school.

    Kids realise academic success is competitive, that’s more important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    My experience of school sport was that the kids who were good at it got to play; the ones who weren't were ignored, and went away to kick a ball around or just hang about out of the way somewhere else. The games teachers were entirely to blame - they didn't do their job, to give ALL the kids some exercise and sports tuition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Coming second, third or last will often teach kids a lot more than coming first. They can work out why they didn't win and what they need to do to improve. The one who comes first quite often accepts his/her own (perhaps genuinely outstanding) ability and relies on that alone so comes a cropper when eventually there is someone out there better than them....its only then they start learning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Competetive Sport is generally a great character builder as it teaches children how to win and lose....both equally very important factors in addressing life,s many hurdles and aspects that occur in the real world.

    As Kipling put it of course" to deal with both these imposters just the same!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    @32: And it would make you hate your less good team mates who everyone would know were put in the team for reasons other than winning, and whose presence in the team was therefore the cause of your defeat. I also didn't make the grade a few times as a child - you have to learn to deal with it (along with the maths, biology, friend making, arguments, winning, losing, everything!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    how can you appreciate the sweet taste of victory if you have never tasted the bitter taste of defeat ? the seeds of dependency are sown early. if competition is not there how can you learn to stand up and dust yourself down and have another crack at it. ? this awful P.C. leftist drivel must be wiped from our society.its a curse a blatant dogmatic charter for none achievers nanny state fodder

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Life is full of winners and losers, hiding kids from it won't benefit them in the long run and learning you aren't the best at everything is pretty important and is self awareness and improvement.
    Most school / Uni leavers already seem to struggle with the realisation of how competative the workplace is hiding them from failure be it academic or sporting will only worsen that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    @41 Phil
    Who are you railing against? The people who commissioned the survey are campaigning FOR competitive sport! The generic PC lefty boogeyman you seem so angry with didn't even get a mention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I agree those that find sport hard should not be demeaned or bullied, but those that can excel at sport should be given as much support and coaching 'to win' as those who are good at more academic subjects or those who are good entrepreneurs should be encouraged to excel at those attributes. Excelling means to be successful however you want to define it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    They stiol have sports in schools?
    I'm supprised considering that the playing fields have been sold off and the average waist size of children is constantly expanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Children need to be taught about proper sportsmanship. To win or lose with dignity and fairness. Unfortunately these days many top stars, especially in football, set a terrible example with their acting, cheating, diving and constant whining. These so called role models need to start setting a proper example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    The weaker players could still attend training sessions without being picked for competitions. 12 year olds are still growing and a child might fall behind at that age and catch up later.
    I see your point, but I imagine that clubs can only take a certain number of members. Keeping weaker children on would deny more able children the opportunity to join.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Student school leaving documents, should include a record of how long they take to run a mile.

    Measure something and a competitive effort will be made to improve the results !

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    At my sons' secondary school the parents don't attend Sports Day - surely that would solve some of the problem if adopted nationally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    But most sports are competitive, in that they are games between teams or individuals where one side will win and the other will lose (or they will draw). Do these children also avoid board games, to avoid the stress of losing, or playing an instrument, to avoid the stress of making a mistake, etc? Just play, enjoy, and try to improve - don't worry about the immediate result!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    More socialists inspired clap-trap busy planning how to make looser's feel better about them self and hopefully garnering future socialists votes. quite disgusting really !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Competition is natural for kids, especially where their interest is engaged be it sport or academic subject. They find their own level (if left alone to do so) and things tend to work out in the end in a way that is right for them. School is an opportunity to experiment/develop/accept limitations so why create artificial limitations for the sake of PC. doesn't help kids face adversity at all.


Page 14 of 17


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