It’s only a game? Competition in school sport under threat

A generation of children are growing up aware that winning is important but admit that they wouldn’t miss it if it was gone, according to research published today (22 April) by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Chance to Shine cricket charity.

With children returning from the Easter break, the spotlight falls on school sport with over eight out of 10 (84%) of 1,000 children aged eight-16 agreeing that experiencing winning and losing is important. However, 64% of children admitted that they would be relieved, not bothered or happier if the competitive element was removed from sport.

Meanwhile competition was identified as a key reason why parents watch their children play sport, with nearly four in 10 children (39%) feeling that their parents would be less interested in watching them without the winning and losing element.

Comparatively, just under a quarter (22%) of 1,000 parents with children aged eight-16 admitted that they would have less interest in watching their child play sport if winning and losing was removed from sport.

This summer, MCC and Chance to Shine are delivering a nationwide scheme to encourage the importance of competition and fair play in schools. From today, Chance to Shine coaches will deliver assemblies and lessons in playing sport in a competitive but sporting manner to 420,000 children in 5,500 state schools, as part of the MCC Spirit of Cricket initiative.

The surveys also uncovered that the pushy parent also is on the rise with parents and children both feeling that there are some parents on the touchline more concerned about winning than the children themselves (97% of parents and 86% of children).

Overall parents and children agree that teamwork (43% of parents and 36% of children) and exercise (34% and 37%) are the two most important aspects of sport although pride is the overwhelming emotion felt by children (62%) and parents (71%) when they experience winning.

Talking about the results, Derek Brewer Chief Executive of MCC said, “The combination of competition and fair play is integral to the MCC Spirit of Cricket message, so to see the results of this survey is a concern. Through our partnership with Chance to Shine, MCC will promote this Spirit of Cricket message to thousands of school children across the UK, to show how they can learn from fairly played, competitive sport.”

Wasim Khan MBE, Chief Executive of the Chance to Shine cricket charity commented, “It is worrying to see that so many children would be relieved to see competition removed from sport. We want to teach children the importance of playing sport competitively and fairly and for them to see the benefits that it can bring to their lives.”


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