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What Happened To Competition?

When did the word ‘competition’ become a dirty word, not to be uttered for fear of being made to feel guilty for wanting more, or for fear of offending everyone?  I read a post today that got me all fired up, enough to actually put my fingers to my keyboard and write this post. It was a post by the lovely Meagan at The Mum Project, I’m not going to rewrite it, but you can check it out here.

In my humble opinion, the last few generations of parents, teachers and the whole world in fact, have been pushing the idea on children that taking part is enough, there should be no winners or losers, everyone must be recognised. This has led to the current generation of people who think that they are entitled to have and to take whatever their precious hearts desire.  

My first experience of this was about 8 years ago when we were still living in the UK. My husband and I attended my step-daughter’s first school sport’s day – she was about 6 years old. Think egg & spoon race, sack race etc. We went along and cheered for her during her races, and then we realised that not many other parents were cheering, everyone was standing there, clapping and enjoying themselves, and staring at us with very judgemental sideways glances, whispering behind their hands. I assumed their disapproving glances and whispers were the usual “There she is. The step-mother, the home-wrecker.” I wasn’t a home-wrecker but whatever helped them sleep at night.

So what was it then you might ask? Well there we were, over-excited, screaming, jumping up and down, shouting things like “Run”, “Faster”, “You can do it” “Go, go, go!”.

After the races were done, my step-daughter came running over to us, so excited to show us the ribbon she had got. We were happy she was excited but we were surprised because she had come second-from-last. It was then that we realised it wasn’t actually a race, and everyone got a ribbon for participating, there were no winners and no losers. So what was the point?

Then it dawned on us. The judgement that was being passed over us wasn’t because I, ‘the home-wrecker’ was there. It was because we were shouting encouragement and urging our child to win and, *gasp* beat the other children! OMG! The horror!

We were horrified. It was so completely opposite to how we both remembered our school sports days – back in the dark ages apparently! They were filled with sweat and tears, trophies and medals. No one got a medal if they didn’t earn it. No one got recognition simply for turning up! In fact, if you didn’t turn up to compulsory sports events, you were disciplined! Everyone was taught about good sportsmanship, and cheering on your teams, celebrating wins, being a team player and trying harder next time.

But on that day, we were clearly third-world neanderthals. Well that’s how we felt anyway.

It wasn’t just Meagan’s post that prompted me to write this post though. I learned this week that the upcoming 5-a-side annual football tournament at the girl’s school will be giving out medals to all the players, regardless of whether their team wins or loses. I was completely shocked. It seems that even South Africa is now pandering to this belief that everyone must be made to feel like they are winning. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked though, maybe I’m the one who has been living in a bubble, or the past maybe.

The more I thought about it though, the more angry I became; the more I realised that this, in my opinion, is exactly what is wrong with society now. I am sure that many, many people will disagree with me. So what.

School children are being allowed to think that they are all owed places at university and that simply by attending school, they will and should qualify to get into university, and there must be places available for everyone who wants to go. Where is the competition? Is it right that they should lower the standard, lower the bar so that everyone gets the opportunity? No! Only the hardest working should be rewarded with places at university. It shouldn’t even be about money! Money should not be allowed to dictate who goes to university and who doesn’t, but that’s a rant for another time. I won’t go there now.

This is exactly why school leavers and graduates believe that they are owed jobs when they leave school. They went to school right? So now where is their job?

When you ask employers about why they turn down some applicants and then employ others they will come back and tell you that most school leavers go into the interviews with the wrong attitude. They go there to find out what they can get from the job in their package (salary, phone, car, medical aid, transport, bonus etc), rather than going in to the interview knowing that they are basically auditioning, that they need to show the interviewer why they should be employed, what they can do for the company, and what they are prepared to offer of themselves if they are just given the opportunity to prove themself. The company doesn’t need your demands, they need you to want to work for them. Who do these inexperienced entitled juveniles think they are, really?

But whose fault is it? Can you blame those applicants? They’ve been handed everything their whole lives, made to believe they can have whatever they want, that just by turning up they should be rewarded! It’s enough.

It’s not enough.

So, getting back to my daughters, getting back to me parenting my daughters, what do I want? What will I do?

Do I want them to get recognition just for attending a compulsory school sporting event? No, I do not! If that does happen, fine, that’s on the school, but I sincerely hope the winners of the competition receive some higher form of recognition!

Do I want them to learn to fight for what is worth having! Absolutely!

Will I help them? Absolutely.

Will I do it for them? Not a chance.

If they don’t work hard enough and they fail, will I say ‘it’s okay, maybe next time?’ No, I blady won’t, not if they weren’t trying hard enough, not if they weren’t putting in the time, or paying their dues!

If they work hard but still don’t achieve what they wanted to? I will help them, support them, maybe point them in a different direction playing to their strengths. I will teach them to aim for the highest height that they can achieve; but they also need to understand that you can’t just have everything you want now, you have to work for it!

Isn’t it our job to prepare our children for the real world? Isn’t it our job to equip them to live a successful life? This is real life. Are we doing our job if we never let them actually work for anything and then chuck them out, in to the deep end? Is that really responsible? I don’t think it is.

You don’t have to be a CEO of a company and drive a fancy expensive car. What you do have to do is work hard to get what you want, because that way you will respect and appreciate what you have when you know how hard you worked for it.

No one should be recognised just for showing up! Be recognised for being great. Be recognised for working hard. Be recognised for doing good.

If there is no competition or standard of excellence, everyone and everything will be mediocre.

We can’t all be winners because then, by default, we are all losers.

How grey, dull and boring will that be?

Nothing worth having, comes easy.


The strong beautiful lady in my featured image is Chantè Finger, a family friend. She is an amazing beautiful woman who, with the support of her family works hard, trains hard and studies hard. She is the type of person I want my daughters to know and respect, she is a role model for young people. She has represented South Africa in athletics and is currently studying to be a nurse. You can follow her for more inspirational beautiful photos on her Instagram page: @chantefinger. Thanks for letting me use your photo Chantè. xx


This post is linked up to the following linkys: 
Twin Mummy and Daddy

Lucy At Home

My Petit Canard
One Messy Mama
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25 thoughts on “What Happened To Competition?”

  1. I really like this post and agree there’s no real competition anymore. Life is challenging and by commiserating our kids all the time doesn’t really prepare them for real life. We’re all about you have to try your best and come first!! Thanks for linking to #marvmondays

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, I am sure we became successful grown ups by competing as children especially in sport. That is where you learnt to deal with loosing as well. When you tried your best and worked hard and there was an athlete who did better, you learnt perseverance and resilience. #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. We learnt that not everyone can win. Those that do win should be celebrated and respected. Nothing wrong with that.

      Like

  3. I think the lack of childhood competition has made it impossible for kids to be ready for adult life. We compete for jobs, we compete for homes, we compete for the best seat in the theater…you can’t have an adult throw a tantrum over a movie seat they wanted and yet I’ve seen it happen. #GlobalBlogging

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  4. It’s a difficult one I know, but as I always say nobody ever remembers who came second win win I believe every time great post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree. Competition can be a great motivator because it demonstrates that you need to work hard to get somewhere. I do think it’s important to encourage children to take part, even if they aren’t going to win, because that is a life lesson in itself (not giving up at the first hurdle or because something looks too hard), but saying that just by taking part you are a winner is missing the point entirely. Really interesting post. Thanks. #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lucy. You raise a good point that maybe I missed. Attendance is good, even if it is forced or compulsory … but there should still be a recognized winner, and runner up!

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  6. I had all these thoughts too when I read Meagan’s post! You are absolutely right that this generation feels not like they are owed something, but that they are owed everything! A friend of mine who I went to school, college & university with, and recently undertook another qualification with her can’t understand why we’ve done all of the same things but I could be perceived as more successful. I was just offered a promotion at work but she has been there longer and that upset her. Hard to tell her it’s because she’s lazy, and even worse can come across as negative. No employer wants to reward that, but she feels like she is owed simply because. Great post! #MarvMondays

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a sticky one. I see why schools take this stance, but I too have trouble with it. It’s form of cotton wool wrapping that will be shredded by the real world.
    Great post.
    #ThatFridayLinky

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  8. Yeah, this is an awkward one. At my daughter’s school there are four houses and on sports day the four houses compete against each other as opposed to the individuals. I guess it’s a half-way house.

    I kinda see the logic as to what schools are doing, but I am not entirely comfortable with I have to say. #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. No one is good at everything but we can teach them to be proud of what they did achieve by actually trying.

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  9. I couldn’t agree with you more on this. We plan to raise our son in the same kind of world that you are planning to raise your daughters in. I think, as parents, we will have a challenge ahead of us trying to work around the way the current world is going, with participation ribbons a-plenty and having to explain that that’s not the way things really work even though society around them is trying to tell them otherwise. I was a competitive swimmer for 14 years and every swim competition we had there was a medal ceremony on the final day. I can remember the jealousy and envy I had seeing my competitors going and receiving their medals. That’s what gave me drive to work harder at practices and listen to what I was being taught. I knew it wasn’t going to be handed to me. I was 13 years old and I understood that. If I didn’t work for it…I didn’t get it. It’s as simple as that. I don’t understand why there has been such a huge switch and suddenly we are more worried about hurting kid’s feelings than we are about teaching them to work hard for what they want and that failure is the only way to learn sometimes. I could go on forever about this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. So glad there are more of us out there. Life is not a fairy tale! I don’t understand how we got to this point. Political correctness has also gone mad! Scary stuff. Thanks for reading x

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  10. I was never good at sports and I think you are right. You miss great life lessons if there is no competition as a child. I came second last in a race once, the last person was first but got sick and therefor came last. When I moaned about being last, my cousin told me: the important thing is that you finished the race. Amazing hey

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But that is important. We can’t all be winners, but you tried. At least by trying you know that sports is not your thing. I was captain of many sports teams in high school. Not because I was best at the sport, but because I was best at organising the team. Our team didn’t always win, but we were always a team. Competition teaches you so much more than just winning or losing. Maybe I need to write that in there. lol

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