Posted: November 29th, 2013







In “Need to Play, Not Compete,” Jessica Statsky argues that young children below the age of 14 years need to play to have fun and not plating to compete, which may have both psychological and physical injuries. Competitive sports for young children are designed like adult games, requiring children to play for winning, which becomes more of a job rather than fun. With competition games, children are under pressure from their parents and couches to win. Such games become discouraging since only the better players will play while the poor children are left out. More so, children will want to avoid failing their parents; thus, they prefer not playing. Statsky cites that talents of children at this age are not fully developed and children cannot be judged then. Mostly, such games will require a lot of physical tackling such as Peewee football. This could cause injuries to the children and cause long-term consequences. Children at this age are supposed to enjoy playing together and not for competition. Additionally, the emphasis put by parents and coaches is too much for such children especially when there are shouting and show of rivalry between spectators of the opposite sides. Thus, children should not be playing competitive games.


Statsky talks about the effects of competitive games on children who are between the age of six and twelve. She cites that children at this age need to play to have fun and not to compete. When competing, some rivalry has to be present between the teams in order to compete competitively. Thus, competitions require too much devotion as well as a spirit of understanding loosing. Most children see loosing as a sign of failure instead of a normal thing. Thus, when children compete in sports, those who loose are frustrated and feel like failures. This can be psychologically damaging. The result could be children opting not to participate in games, which could prevent them from achieving their full professional athlete potential in the future.

When playing, children will be afraid of getting hurt, which makes them nervous during competitive games. In one of my experiences in elementary school, I enjoyed playing football during our physical exercise lessons. However, when we entered a competition with another team, I knew this was not an ordinary play, and winning was the point rather than having fun. Considering the nature of football, the tackles, I felt nervous since the opponents were not children I used to playing with before. When playing, my friend was tackled and injured. After his injury, I did not play as usual. I could avoid a tackle as much as possible by passing the ball even to an opponent out of fear of injury when approached. I was blamed for making the team loose. This was too frustrating but I knew I was not going to play football again for competition.

As Statsky says, competitive games for children are set with adult standards, requiring children to play with professional standards. These standards become too complicated for children who may not understand all of them. Thus, when playing in a competition to win, maintaining the standards become the goal. Referring back to my experience in sixth grade, during our usual physical lessons and training, all we did was run around with the ball without having to tackle each other directly or knock each other down hard. No body was concerned about winning. There were no opponents or teammates. Rather, each person would run after the ball to score a point. This was quite enjoyable. However, at the competition, we needed to recall all the standards set for the game. This became quite complicated and having fun was out of the question. For every fault to the set standards, a penalty would be given. This would result in frustration and lack of motivation due to fear of failing again as well as being scolded. It is not a wonder that children will fake injuries or even sickness as this age to avoid such frustration.

Moreover, higher standards of playing require a lot of physical activity. Children at this age may not be ready for such activities. Therefore, they are forced to strain their muscles. For instance, in a football game, tackling will require a lot of physical activity including running fast. When tackled at a high speed, being injured is easy. Another example is catching the ball or picking it while running. This is not easy for children who are still growing. In another instance, children will be required to use the same basketball court that adults use. At the usual height of the board, children will find it hard to score, increasing to their frustration. More so, this will require more straining having to through the ball higher.

Competitive games have a psychological effect on the children. As Statsky cites, when children are playing on their own without any rules or anybody to pressure them they are quite happy and enjoy the game. When a coach enters the field or play ground, children will become serious and wait to learn as if they were in class. Thus, a playfield becomes another serious class. Thus, playing does not serve its purpose at this age. While they are supposed enjoy themselves in the playfield from a day of sitting in class, they find the playfield just like another class with structured learning. This makes the life of children at school to structure and hardly allows children to have fun. Children at a young age should just have few basic standards of playing enough to make them enjoy the games. Considering this fact, I remember playing during class breaks without a teacher or coach quite interesting. Mostly we chased each other around without any standards to follow. This makes the games easy, which is more interesting than using competitive standards.

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