There are no Winners in participation only sport

As a follow on from my last blog post I wanted to write about a topic that really makes my blood boil.


Participation only sport! There are no winners or losers! Everyone gets a medal.


Some days you win and other days you lose. Fact of life! And actually this subject is probably the most debatable one out there when he comes to kid’s sports. I don’t see anything wrong with having a winner and a loser. And at what age is a good age to start playing for a win? My daughters netball team which is U/8's is participation only. They don't keep score, no winners or losers. Yet, my daughter is naturally driven to want to score more goals than the other team. Yes she wants to play for a win. And what is wrong with that? 


Coming from a sports background myself I think it’s the most ridiculous thing to happen to kids sports. So we are teaching our kids not to be competitive and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. ‘Just have a go’  I totally disagree with this and I think that we are breeding a generation of kids that won’t commit, that won’t be adverse to failure and will not know how hard it is to work for something and be rewarded for that.


And will this not transfer over into other facets of their life? “Oh Mum/Dad I gave it a go and it just didn’t work!” Are we settling for mediocrity? I don’t push my kids into anything, however if they commit to a season of sport, they will see that season out. And if they want to be better at something I encourage them to work harder on it or help them find more resources. I do not believe that they should just be allowed to throw in the towel when something doesn’t go their way or they say that they lose interest. It stems back to ‘Teamwork’ and commitment. You need your kids to learn responsibility, integrity and resilience.


Likewise in teams. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. That’s the way it rolls. And it feels like we are just trying to protect our kids from ‘losing’, I don’t think we are protecting them from ‘winning’! Why? What is wrong with letting your kid lose? What does it really matter? I can remember losing some very big games. The Olympic Gold Medal Game in 2004. And so we lost, what’s the big deal. We gave it our best shot and unfortunately we were not the strongest team on the day. It’s just a game of sport and life goes on. But what I can say is from my experiences in sport it has made me a strong person emotionally and physically.


What matters is how we measure success. Success is not necessarily measured by whether you win. Success is a measure of personal achievement or team achievement. My son’s basketball team this year has won very few games, and that’s okay. It seems as though their team is quite underdeveloped skill wise compared to the other teams in the competition. The team has been working hard and last week they celebrated their first win. So what happened here was an invaluable lesson for my son and all the kids on his team. They had experienced winning. They celebrated a win together as a team and are now driven by that ‘winning feeling’ to work hard together to achieve that success again. And having those momentous occasions serve a valuable purpose in personal growth.



Kids have to learn how to ‘win’ and how will they ever do that if they never get to lose? We are teaching our kids to never have a go, in case you lose. What are we protecting them from? 

Write a comment

Comments: 6
  • #1

    Mary (Tuesday, 20 August 2019 16:27)

    I so agree Tanya. We have to learn to win and lose and both teach us different things. They are equally as important.
    PS: l am loving your blog and enjoying your writing style.

  • #2

    Kellie (Tuesday, 20 August 2019 17:04)

    Could not agree with you more Tanya.

  • #3

    Karen (Tuesday, 20 August 2019 19:24)

    Fantastic message for every sport and every school. Participation by allowing all children equal opportunity to play and learn is so much more important than every child wins a prize. Teaching children that they can win or lose and do that with courtesy and consideration of everyone involved is so much more important.

  • #4

    TEK (Tuesday, 20 August 2019 21:21)

    You’ve hit the nail on the head T and couldn’t agree more. Some kids are more competitive than others, but that’s part of who you are and not something you teach. Kids need to learn how to be humble in victory and defeat, and if not taught as a life skill early in life we have these obnoxious sportsmen and women who feel they have an entitlement to what the world owes them.
    Great read xx

  • #5

    Karen King (Wednesday, 21 August 2019 13:32)

    Couldn’t agree more. Have been a coach of all ages and currently coach u8 netball. I am competitive and so are my babies. We all count the goals scored even the parents on the sideline. Life is competitive!

  • #6

    Anonymous (Wednesday, 04 September 2019 17:27)

    Thank you for saying aloud what I think a lot of us are thinking - like Kipling said in If, "...If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same..."