Is Winning Important?

Even from a young age, a child’s competitive instinct shows out – whether its about being the best in class, being first to cross the road at the traffic lights, always being first in line, bragging to their friends about having the nicest shoes or the newest toy.

However the question that always seems to get asked is, Is winning important?  And as always, there are two answers to every closed question.

First the reasons why winning is important – it motivates people to improve; gives immediate feedback on performance; develops our ability to count; and it is very satisfying knowing that you have played to the rules and succeeded.

Now for why winning is not important – winning may prompt underhand tactics, cheating, bad attitudes and gamesmanship.  And for the losing team, if the other side hasn’t played by the rules, it can become very demotivating.  At a young age, it’s not about the score – children don’t remember the result, they only remember how much fun they had while playing.

So in conclusion, winning is good as long as it is done in the right spirit.  What is that spirit? Playing the game in the right manner, being gracious and humble, and winning through skill and physical ability alone.  Also no one likes winning if the other team hasn’t been given a fair opportunity, eg if there is a large difference in age or biased officiating.

When I played international sport, to settle my pre-game nerves a coach told me to treat the game as if you were playing in the backyard.  I thought that this was rather absurd at first, but when thinking about it, I remember that in those backyard encounters with my friends and neighbours, we used to imagine playing in the World Cup and the Olympics, we pretended to be superstars and emulated their moves, we practiced and practiced, we tried things.  Yes it was competitive and we wanted to win, but we were never scared of failing and after that we all went inside and forgot about the score.

At Shaws Little League, winning is not about trophies, certificates and medals, but instead is aimed at improving skills, obtaining personal bests, and giving 100%.  Yes competition plays a part, but only so that children get accustomed to playing against each other and pushing each other to improve.

Ultimately, winning should be a process of continuous learning, improvement and raising the bar.