‘Pressure cooker’ of school sports turning children into a win-at-all costs generation

Two-thirds (64 per cent) of children in Britain’s schools are cheating during school sport due to the pressure they feel under to win, according to research published today (15 April) by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and ‘Chance to Shine’ cricket charity.

As children return from the Easter holidays there will be concern in classrooms that 90 per cent of children admit their teammates feel under pressure to win whilst playing sport. More worrying is that three-quarters (75 per cent) of the 1,002 children aged eight-16 surveyed believe that their teammates would cheat if they could get away with it.

To help teach young people how to play sport in a competitive but fair spirit, MCC and Chance to Shine are delivering a nationwide scheme to encourage ‘fair play’ in schools. From today, Chance to Shine coaches will deliver assemblies and lessons in good sportsmanship to around 400,000 children in 4,500 state schools, as part of the MCC Spirit of Cricket scheme.

Children also expressed a lack of remorse from their peers with 37 per cent believing that their teammates do not care if they won by cheating and five per cent were happy or proud if they have. Only 16 per cent of those surveyed said that their teammates felt guilty after cheating to win.

The children admitted to seeing a variety of unsportsmanlike actions, with four in ten having experienced professional fouls, nearly a third (32 per cent) regularly saw time-wasting and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) witnessed diving.

In a separate survey of 1,004 parents of children aged eight-16, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of parents believe that cheating by high profile sportsmen and women is adding to the pressure on young people to copy them.

According to the research, there is also a discrepancy between parents believing that 67 per cent of their children feel under pressure to win when playing sport whilst a higher proportion of children (77 per cent) admitted to feeling under pressure to win.

Derek Brewer, Chief Executive of MCC commented, “This survey highlights the pressures children feel under when playing sport. With this backdrop it is vital that children are taught the importance of playing sport in the correct spirit. MCC’s ongoing partnership with Chance to Shine is a perfect vehicle for this, as children learn about the MCC Spirit of Cricket principles of playing hard, but fair. During the partnership we have seen firsthand how these values improve behaviour in the playground and the classroom.”

Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of the Chance to Shine cricket charity said, “It is a real concern to us that so many youngsters struggle in this ‘pressure cooker’ to win at all costs. We teach children the importance of playing sport competitively and fairly whilst also respecting the rules and the opposition.”

This summer children will have also have the chance to compete for their very own Ashes Urn as 1,500 replica urns are distributed to Chance to Shine schools around the country thanks to the partnership with MCC.

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