Competitive team sports will alienate inactive schoolchildren, report says – it almost did it for me

I’ve been following the debate about competitive school sports for a while, and now have stumbled upon an interesting article on the topic: Competitive team sports will alienate inactive schoolchildren. I’m far from inactive – have never been: starting aged 14, I have never stopped training for longer than a few weeks – following detailed training plans built around martial arts and lifting, with running, cycling and now in middle age, yoga. I train at least 4h a week, with phases of self-organized training camps of up to 10h per week. I’ve worked as a personal fitness trainer spring my studies. Motivation has never been a problem. But vanity aside, there is a point in this – I always engaged with sports, but I have always strongly avoided its competitive angle; to be more exact, if I would have been pushed to compete – as I was when in an athletics team – I would knowingly underperform, or not engage at all. One of the best ways to put me off from something, is to make it a competition – and I don’t think I’m alone. When training clients many years back, I found my best results when helping them tap into their inner urge to live healthier, more enjoyable lives – for themselves. Other benefits, like weight loss, higher productivity, would set in as side effects, not the main purpose. They would stay on the programmes for longer, and I think it was because their motivation came from within. Competition may lead to great short term results, but when it falls away – with people having jobs, families, kids, or injuries – most people disengage. My martial arts school does not do competition – and I train with people who have done the sport for 40 years and more, and I have trained with them for over 25 years. Everyone I know who used to compete has stopped long ago – not only competing, but the sport itself. The aim for physical education should be educate people to take better care of their bodies – over the course of their lives. Pushing them into competitive sports may not only turn them off early on – it almost did that for me – but may also not work towards keeping them active in the long term, which is certainly better for society. To stay true to my blog’s theme – what did I learn? I knew that I am not competitive – but I am starting to think it may actually be counterproductive in many settings.

October 8th, 2012 by