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Parents complain as over half of primary schools have non-competitive sports days

Article By: Sue Learner

Parents are calling for school sports days to be competitive, after a survey found over half of primary schools are holding sports days with a non-competitive theme.

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A poll by online parenting resource, Families Online, found 57 per cent of schools hold sports days where children compete in teams and are rewarded for taking part, rather than competing on an individual basis.

However just over three-quarters of parents said they did not agree with this non-competitive style of event, saying healthy competition is important and that we should be embracing winning and losing.

Eighty-two per cent of parents said that they would like school sports days to be about individual competition like the ‘old days’ on the basis that you can’t always win at everything in life and sometimes you have to lose.

Faye Mingo, mum of two and director of marketing at Families said: “Sports day is always a contentious one; as parents we are proud of our children and we want to encourage them and cheer them on at the finish line, but perhaps in our bid to protect and shield them from the disappointment of losing we have in fact removed the traditional competitive spirit of sports days.

“People take part in the Olympics and there are winners and there are losers, this is normal stuff and our children are strong enough to cope with that. There is of course nothing wrong with developing team spirit via group activities, but the results from this survey show that as parents we believe we should be helping our children to deal with disappointment and to understand that losing is completely ok.”

On the topic of winning and losing, just over half of parents said they were comfortable with their child losing, saying it isn’t a bad thing and it teaches resilience and confidence.

Only 14 per cent of parents were in favour of non-competitive sports days, saying sports day should be an inclusive event where everyone wins for taking part. There was also concern that children who aren’t naturally good at sports would be singled out if they lost.


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