Part 1: Summary
In "Children Need to Play, Not Compete," Jessica Statsky debates whether competitive sports are necessary for young children before their adolescent years. Statsky believes that competitiveness should belong to adult sports only because children psychologically are not ready to stop having fun on the field or in the gym in favor of a more serious attitude.
Among other reasons against an adult-like approach to sports is unreadiness of children bodies to endure heavy physical stresses, which can lead to injuries. Because of that unpreparedness, some children may be written off as unsuitable for certain kinds of sports while getting older the same children could show great results. Statsky offers to divide sports activities for children under 12-14 years and those over that age. The latter could practice being competitive while the former could enjoy just playing and spending time with friends. The reason for that is that apart from the ability to compete, children need to develop an ability to cooperate, as well.
Part 2: Response
I find Jessica Statsky's position reasonable. Not all people are born with a competitive streak. The least we can do for our children is to postpone their immergence to the reality of the dog-eat-dog world. Therefore, it would be fair to create such conditions under which everyone's needs could be tended. Taking into consideration the obvious physical and psychological harm mentioned in the article, I agree that it would be wise for sports officials to create special programs for younger children.
However, I am not sure whether it is necessary to develop competitiveness at all. I suppose there are children who are ambitious; hence, actually, they do not need to be encouraged to compete - they are always ready for that. However, at the same time, there are many children who do not want to feel anxiety when they need to perform before other people. I agree with Statsky that younger children can miss the point of winning. It is not important for the most of them.
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Actually, I do not believe that competition is so good for self-esteem. People need to value themselves not because they are better than somebody else but because they are who they are. Competition violates the concept to a great extent. I know some children who having won feel sorry about those defeated. I would support such feelings. In the game, the winner is one. It automatically makes all the rest losers. The defeated children feel ashamed and crestfallen. What positive reinforcement a child can obtain from that lesson?
All usual benefits of competitive sports can be gained without actual competition. In fact, I believe that it is cooperation we need to teach more. With the help of cooperation children can learn how to work in teams, improve their skills, and face challenges.
The American nation is great at competing; competition lies at the core of our mentality. However, being able to cooperate brings better results and makes oneself feel better. I insist that the only person we need to compete with is ourselves. Each of us should remember himself/herself yesterday and try to be better tomorrow. I think it will be enough for a fruitful and fulfilling life. As for sports, I would leave it to professional athletes. Young children should undertake physical activity for fun.