Is it all about the winning or the taking part?

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Why do we say “it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts”?

It’s a phrase echoed by the founder of the Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who said “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

Many people in the UK though seem to agree that trying and failing is more admirable than not trying at all.

In practice, though, most people seem only to be interested in the winners and the medallists.

In young children’s sporting events, last place is often rewarded with a ‘wooden spoon’ or booby prize. Grown-up athletes don’t even have this to look forward to. Perhaps ‘taking part’ is just a myth designed to cheer up the slowest children: to take the edge off failure.

Many people would say otherwise. They say that effort, determination and striving to reach a goal are commendable in themselves.

Winning athletes are those who combine this good behaviour with natural talent.

Competition is not unethical. It is reasonable that winners be rewarded, even if their victories have an element of chance; this is the essence of a game, and games are fundamental to humanity.

Celebrating achievement is not in itself unethical – but it can drive some competitors to unethical behaviour.

What are your views?  Did you compete in sport when you were young?  Did your school encourage competition to win?  How can we best prepare our children and grandchildren for the real world of competition?

Is it all about the winning or the taking part?

96 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Winning! Taking part and doing your best!

What are your views?

We'd love to hear your comments

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Terrysoldgal
16th Sep 2016
-1
Thanks for voting!
It doesn't matter who wins or loses, it's how you play the game.
Munsterlander
22nd Aug 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I think as we have seen from the Olympics its about the winning. We are number 2 in the world. Who would have believed that 20 years ago when we only won 1 gold medal-what a joke. Self belief my mum always told me
joanairey
24th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I was useless at games at school and was always the last to be picked. Either that or I was left out completely and had to watch everyone else from the sidelines.
The reason was I had bad feet and couldn't run as fast as anyone else. I'd say things were stacked against me and others who could not run, jump or whatever as good as others.
There is a definite stigma attached to those who can't do as well as anyone else. I'd say it's the winning rather than the taking part. But they need losers like me to make them look good!
DaveP007
18th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Competitiveness is with us, throughout our lives - it's a simple fact, so it's important that you learn from an early age, there is a need to compete and that in truth, there can only really be one winner and an awful lot of losers. Learning to treat both those positions with the same attitude is key to a successful life moving forward.
Wilf
18th Jul 2016
3
Thanks for voting!
yes I agree. It gives a sense of real life as life is about winners and losers. It also helps to shape character. Look at the Olympics and the gold, silver, bronze. There can only be one gold winner
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
2
Thanks for voting!
It's not the winning, but the taking apart!
Munsterlander
22nd Aug 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Really? after these Olympics its about the winning for sure. Who just wants to take part?
Wilf
12th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
If you are British Celtwitch that is absolutely true. Its what we do best!
Henry5
12th Jul 2016
2
Thanks for voting!
Winning of course. We invented most of the great games of the world-football, Rugby , Cricket. They are meant to be won not just played. (Must tell that to the England football team)
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
3
Thanks for voting!
I suppose it must be hard to play top footie when you are wearing a heavy money belt?
Wilf
12th Jul 2016
2
Thanks for voting!
especially with £250,000 a week in it!!!!!
Lionel
12th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
jeanmark
12th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Oh dear celtwitch, we agree!
Lionel
11th Jul 2016
5
Thanks for voting!
I can see I'm going to buck the trend here!

I am not the least bit competitive. My father was ferociously competitive in his business, a London Lovejoy on steroids and Scotch, but it must be said he was so much more successful than Lovejoy.

I didn't inherit the competitive gene. Not at all interested in sport. But I would echo Sally's point ... Celebrating achievement is not in itself unethical – but it can drive some competitors to unethical behaviour ... Now, that I utterly deplore. It's always to the detriment of the game.

How about a little 'kultcher':

Sir Henry John Newbolt in his work Vitai Lampada wrote:
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Or,

A quote attributed to Wellington but is probably apocryphal:
The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.

Yes, there's a place for sport and competition in life, but not a place for me within it.
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I bet you are a whiz at domino's down at the Frog and Ferret?
Lionel
12th Jul 2016
-1
Thanks for voting!
jeanmark
11th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I so relate to your thoughts as I certainly didn't inherit a competitive gene. As the youngest of three girls I spent my whole school life being told by teachers that I wasn't as good as my sisters or asked why I was't as good as my sisters - to me they appeared to always win and excel in all that they did (they didn't of course). I was too afraid to compete with anyone as I felt I was a failure, would let my friends and team mates down and would never be any good at anything. My father told me that it didn't matter whether I won or lost, the important things was that I tried and that one day I would win. It is a competitive world but winning isn't always the best teacher of life, the knocks are what makes us strong and many a successful athlete may agree that is what pushed them to succeed.
Munsterlander
22nd Aug 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
We need self belief as a nation and the Olympics will help us all realise we are GREAT Britain!
Lionel
11th Jul 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Jeanmark, I so agree. I don't run with the herd.

My school selected me, a very small twelve year old from West Norfolk, to play rugby against the French Lycée, just two minutes walk from where I lived in London. The French fielded giants, they must have been fifteen or sixteen years old - I think I might have looked at their navel!

I got one grab of the ball, ran in the right direction, but was picked up by a giant, carried on his hip as he ran to the other end and scored. My team mates surrounded me and gave me a sound kicking. The result? Three days in hospital with internal bleeding and broken ribs. When next I looked in the mirror the me I'd grown up with was't recognisable.

At school I refused to play games or sports. The floggings I received for insolence were worth it. Yet about five years ago my doctor queried some anomalies in my liver and kidney function and delved into my past. Yes, the effects of that kicking might be with me still.

No, no competitive instinct, yet still I made my way in life and once was the best in the country at what I did. Pig keeping!

You're right, it's the doing, the taking part which matters. The result? Well there's always another opportunity.
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Rob Burrow, who plays League for Leeds and England is vertically challenged,but it doesn't stop him scoring tries.
It sounds as though the Lion-el is a bit of a masochist!
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I am competitive, I won a Blackbelt in Ludo.
Lionel
12th Jul 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Bet you were the siren of a rave!
jeanmark
12th Jul 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I even lost at that.
jeanmark
12th Jul 2016
-1
Thanks for voting!
So you were a winner Lionel as where would we be without pork. I did take part in sport at school but was conditioned to fail because that was what was expected of me. Being constantly told you are not good enough because you haven't won can destroy the confidence of a child whether that be sport or academic achievement. Unfortunately a number of adults still can't understand that. A friend was confused when the Welsh cheered their team on there return from the European cup tournement as they hadn't won, he didn't appear to understand they were being cheered for trying!
celtwitch
12th Jul 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
You are almost right, they were celebrated for going further than Wales had ever gone before, at least if we ignore Patagonia, which is a very long way away.
Pam1960
11th Jul 2016
4
Thanks for voting!
Individuals seem to have the winning mentality but teams often struggle. Is this because not all team members have the competitive spirit. With children they are told it is all about taking part nit the winning. I believe this is wrong, life is competitive and you should learn this from a young age. I remember when I was at school we had awards nights with prizes in each class for top girl and boy, individual subjects, various sporting achievements, music, most helpful, milk monitor etc.I remember bring in competition with a friend on numerous occasions in fact I still have the books I won. Everyone cannot be good at sport but mire often than not their talent lies elsewhere
JohnHerb
11th Jul 2016
2
Thanks for voting!
Pam I think that's a really good point. As a member of a team there are places you can "hide" and rely on teammates to "win". As an individual like Andy Murray there is nowhere to hide. Its all down to you and I think much more difficult. Having said that a team captain has a hard job keeping all the team motivated-a great test for leadership.
JohnHerb
11th Jul 2016
4
Thanks for voting!
I think the truth is its a bit of both. Let me make public my golf! I love playing but I hardly ever win even though I have been playing for 40 years. I love it when I do win which is about 1 x per annum! Seriously we do need to have a winning culture-look at Andy Murray yesterday the guy believes he can win and he does and we applaud him. The 2012 Olympics were fantastic for team GB. Now football-well thats a sore subject and its daft that all we keep harking back to is 1966 and 50 years ago. Let start winning international football as well. Kids at school should be taught to play sports to accept if you don't win but enjoy yourself and strive to be the winner!
Munsterlander
22nd Aug 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Its all about the wining. whats the point of playing if you dont want to win?
Jo Kingham
11th Jul 2016
3
Thanks for voting!
It's all about winning - nobody remembers who came second!
Life is competitive and children have to get used to it, our school life was competitive both in the classroom and on the sports field. Schools these days who have non competitive sports days so not to offend less able children are just ridiculous. Sports days are when some children have their opportunity to shine, not everyone is academic and we should celebrate winners in all aspects of life.
Just like the French football team last night - who wants a losers medal - no thanks!

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