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 131.

    School sports should be fun, but without a competitive edge nobody would ever get good at anything. However, this report is based on 64% of pupils being either relieved, Not Bothered or happier, if winning or losing was not a factor. I think basically 63% must have been Not Bothered about the poll as it was a waste of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I'm glad I did competitive sport at school. When I started I was hopeless but was taught to do my best and have some determination. I left school being one of the best all-rounders of my school, always one of the first to be picked for any of the sports on offer. The philosophy was simple and prepared me well for real life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    'team sports encourage competitiveness and team spirit.'

    Competitiveness can mean striving to do your best or trying to do others down. Team spirit can mean working together or bullying the player who 'lets the side down'. I experienced both at school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Go to a kids football match and watch the parents, they`re more competitive than a child could ever be. Winning or losing is not as important as doing your best, whether it`s sports or academic persuits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    99 I am also in my 50's and I am not scarred by being useless at sport. I do however remember Mrs.B the games mistress being hateful to me because I couldn't play netball. I was not very tall and that was a problem. Do I let it get me down, no, but I couldn't wait to leave school. Today's teachers do understand that some children at not sporty and know as long as the children try, they understand

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    PE is often viewed with dread by most children. My son's year is split into 2 'ability' groups,son is in lower. Most lessons teacher asks if they would like to play football,splits group into 2 teams allotting positions to children who are ignorant of football positions-after 2years my son has learnt nothing about passing,fitness,tackling same applies to rugby-zero instruction takes place

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    I thinks competitive sport is vital as is good sportsmanship and a sense of fair play. Nothing wrong with playing to win as long as you win fairly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Succeeding in modern life is a competition, even trying for your first job for example. By all means remove bad teaching and bad management of sporting competitions but do remove all competition from sport or schools or our young people will never learn a very important part of life's lesson.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    As a short-sighted & smaller-than-average child with a deep interest in a non-competitive, non-team sport not deemed 'worthwhile' by PE teachers, school PE & team sports were hateful & time-wasting. The same went for several of my friends.

    Those friends & I are, in our mid-60s, still active participants in those sports. Can former members of the hockey & rugby teams say the same?

    I doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Removing competition from school sports panders to mediocrity and gives fewer opportunities for children to stretch themselves, to reach beyond what they think they can achieve physically and feel the sense of pride, exhiliration and self-worth that comes from saying not just, "I won!", but simply, "I did it!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I think school sports would work better if the class was split into team sports for those who wanted to take part, and alternatives such as jogging, swimming, orienteering, fitness class etc for everyone else- lots of life-skills could be gained from these activities such as improving your personal best, endurance, teamwork, cameraderie that are equally valuable to the more competitive ones!

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    It's healthy to try and be the best you can be in activities that interest you.

    There should be a lot more focus on individual improvement rather than overall victory. Clap the winner but cheer the people who have improved the most or are putting the most effort in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    One of the contributors put his finger on it for me; team sports encourage competitiveness and team spirit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Maybe competitive sports just aren't for everybody?
    I don't really like abseiling much either, or parachuting for that matter, is there a study group getting paid to work out why?

    I'll give you a clue.

    I just don't fancy it.
    Sorry for being simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    What complete rubbish. Being competitive is natural, it's part of our genetic makeup. My grandson plays Rugby and tennis and swims and even at home winning is his thing. But if he comes second or third or last, he shrugs it off and says must do better next time. He is seven by the way

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    In a society where everyone must win everyone loses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Life is all about competition. Every aspect of our life is competitve. It is part of Nature. It is the less competitive that do less well in life.
    It is no accident that competitive individuals go on to be the Captains of Industry. This is one of the reasons most Independent schools have such strong team sports and their students go on to top jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Without winners in sports(and all other walks of life) there is nothing to aspire to or to achieve or better. I remember an old saying of a teacher of mine many years ago and have never forgotten it...."when the legend dies the dream ends and when the dream end there is no more greatness"

    Its this kind of policy being reported on that is going to destroy the future generations

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Competitive sport puts chidren off because in school and competition everyone is a winner. Once they learn they can't always win the children who want to do well in a particular sport will stick with it and strive to excel.

    My other half is a lawn bowls coach and it's easy to see which of the children have natural ability and those who try very hard keep up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I was never good at sports in school and couldn't care less whether I won or lost, it didn't make me less of a high achiever or try less hard in life, because I focussed on more academic subjects where I could compete! I could have done without the additional stress of PE class and dreaded it each week! I am sure many other non-sporty people had similar experiences.


Page 11 of 17


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