"Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than that of competition" -Henry Clay
Is competition beneficial or harmful? Are competitive sports good for kids or detrimental to their self-esteem? Is it really necessary as preparation for adult life?
There are a lot of opinions on the matter, especially among the parents who are considered most to blame for the so called "snowflake" generation.
I wouldn't necessarily say that competition is good or bad in and of itself. The biggest problem in the world of competition is in regards to our perceptions of winning.
Thanks to the age-old participation trophy debacle, many a stance have been voiced on whether or not competition actually prepares kids for the "real world."
Contrary to most's distaste: life is a competition.
Whether you're competing with other people or yourself, you're competing still. Applying for scholarships, finding a job, losing weight— even getting someone to go out with you— is a competition.
Take making it to work on time: you race the clock, yourself, spend time organizing the fastest possible routine for getting from point A to point B, and even manipulate traffic and lanes to use them to your advantage.
Despite your stance on whether or not competition is entirely about winning, here are my 8 reasons why it's so much more than that.
1. Competition develops alertness and focus.
The necessity of paying attention in order to be on top of your game derives from the competition. Without the worry of any sort of loss, your demeanor would be a lot easier going throughout life. Lacking observation in any sort of competition makes you susceptible and more prone to mistakes that can cost you. Competition trains your eyes and mind to develop a deeper sense of discernment you might otherwise lack.
2. Competition reveals your strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone know when they've done something that worked or didn't. Right or wrong is usually pretty black and white, especially when it comes to seeing it in yourself. Knowing which areas you excel in and which you don't is beyond important.
Accentuating your strengths is necessary for life, as well as coming to terms with/building up weaknesses. A person's ability to do this will without a doubt affect their future lives, and their ability to handle their own successes and flaws will determine how they live.
3. Competition proves that effort reaps reward.
When in a competitive environment that forces you to get better or fail, it easily highlights what successful effort looks like. Whether that's found within your own hard work or seen in the winnings of others, it consistently proves (or should consistently prove) that wins don't just fall in your lap. Even incredibly naturally talented people cannot rely on talent alone.
4. Competition teaches you to not fear adversity.Competition in itself is adversity. Through opponents or training, you're constantly struggling to out work them and yourself. A fear of competition makes it seem scarier than it is. Learning early on to handle trials while tabling nerves is a useful life skill.
5. Competition helps you manage your own success and failure.
Winning and losing gracefully is a completely lost art, especially in today's society. No one likes a sore loser-- or winner. Developing the ability to process overwhelming emotions of pride or disappointment is necessary for your own enjoyment, along with everyone else's. The ability to process feelings in a healthy way is vital, and possessing the skills to do that are crucial whilst managing adulthood.
6. Competition is a healthy realization that life isn't fair.
Sometimes you work hard and still don't win. Bad calls are made, poor judgments aren't corrected, and you're left feeling cheated out of the recognition you deserve. That happens. Learning this early on in life is an advantage because life simply isn't fair.
Shielding kids from this truth by not letting them fail does more harm than good. How can you expect for a child, who has been told their entire life that they are the best at everything, to cope well with realizing they're actually average upon reaching adulthood?
7. Competition increases your quality.Whether it's your agility for soccer, your accuracy in golf, or even product for a business, competition forces positive improvement. Learning how to build on and improve personal things, and how to adapt and correct yourself throughout life, is invaluable.
8. Competition prepares you for adult life.The competition of life in ongoing. Mastering strengths, improving weaknesses, handling losses with grace, holding yourself to a higher standard-- all of these things are applicable to everyday life. The value of harnessing these traits as children is underrated; constantly lost underneath all of the over-protection of feelings, sheltering from difficulty, and induced fear of losing.
Teaching children to develop attitudes of arrogance, a belief-perseverance that they're the best all the time, or that they deserve an award for merely showing up, is where this previously-good-intended-shielding comes back to bite parents.
A healthy focus on the practice of competing rather than result proves competition to be constructive for shaping character, and an instrumental choice of a pastime for children.