Handing the non-competitive baton to my sons

A running track showing lanes one and two.

I’ve been to not one but two sports days this week. It was nice to spend a bit of time away from my desk and see how my sons did. I like the way their school approaches it too. Although it was competitive in that they were earning points for their respective ‘houses’, the events looked fun.

All of the kids I saw seemed to embrace the spirit of this and were smiling the whole time. Of course, beneath the camaraderie were different levels of drive.

From watching how they competed, there were various gradations from those who really wanted to win to those who were just having a laugh.

My sons are always fiercely competitive with each other at home, but there was a different story here. They both seemed to take after me.

That is to say that they both made a good effort at every event they took part in, but weren’t hell-bent on winning.

Although I’ve always worked hard, I’ve never been particularly competitive. This is perfectly illustrated by my own primary school sports days.

I went to a very small school and there were only three boys in my year group. When it came to our race, it was the same result every year.

The sporty lad who wanted to win always won. The boy who loved messing around and pretending to be a tractor always came in third. And I was always second.

That pretty much set out the stall for me. I play five-a-side every week but only for enjoyment and exercise. The score doesn’t matter to me; only that I play well.

Before becoming my own boss, I never had any career aspirations. My jobs were a means to an end and I hated the idea of managing other people.

Even now as a full-time blogger my attitude is similar. I set myself earnings targets to pay the bills with, but enjoy the work-life balance it gives me too much to try and level up. I’m never going to make megabucks or get a book deal and that’s fine.

So I appear to have handed the non-competitive baton to my sons. They’re still very young and may well change but, if they decide to run with it, I’m happy.

Personally, I think that as long as we compete with ourselves and enjoy taking part, nothing else matters. Particularly with sports – it’s harder to nurture a love of them if it’s all about winning from day one.

What do you think? Should we be teaching kids to enjoy taking part or that winning is more important?

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