Competition VS Cooperation

Competition Vs. Cooperation


Competition is a good thing and should be taught in the classroom (or gym). This country grew to become one of the greatest nations in the world because of the competitive nature of business and sport alike. There are rules that need to be stressed and moral standards that must be agreed upon and adhered to in order to make sure that the atmosphere we live, work and play in are the most constructive possible. Cooperation has its place and is an integral part of any team sport or business plan. However, cooperation is a component of the overall goal of any student that we are attempting to train. That goal is to become the best person they can possibly be. I teach at an intermediate grade elementary, which is populated by 3rd thru 5th grade students. I have found in my experience that the students at this level need to be taught how to compete. The P.E. teacher in the primary grade “feeder” school almost exclusively focuses on teaching cooperative games to the students. When those students have moved up to the next school they do not know how to compete. Most often these new 3rd grade students are quite poor losers and poor winners. They have never been taught about sportsmanship or how to maintain composure in a competitive situation. I believe that although Alfie Kohn may be right in saying that cooperation gets more done and helps people have a better self-esteem, we live in a society where there is a lot of competition. Our federal and local public contract laws actually enforce this concept in the requirements for competitive bidding on any bonded project.  We have seen many instances in which the ethics and morals are pushed aside in these situations and many businessmen and women are going to prison every year because their greed and competitive nature surpasses their desire to win a job or contract solely on the merits of their professional portfolio or ability to sell their product. Rather, these businesspeople, now in-mates, tried to use bribery and coercion to get the jobs they sought. I believe that the focus of our training in competition for young learners is to have the drive to win and focus on how to do that within the confines of the rules.

In sport or competitive game situations students need to learn how to not only cooperate with others on their team and opposing team to have the most productive environment possible but how to compete with others on both sides of the equation as well. I read a statement by Daniel Perkins that says competition should be taught at levels. For example Angela Reinhart, stated that before the age of five, children should be taught cooperative games only. Even after the age of five children still have a hard time dealing with and understanding competition.  At the age of eight, teachers should begin to teach students about competition and how to compete. I have a lesson I teach on sportsmanship. I focus on how a person should act when they lose, but also how they should act if they win. This lesson has helped in the way the students have started treating each other in my P.E. classes every year. I have also made sure that sometimes we keep score in a game so that I can teach them how they should act on either side of the end result. I really try to stress that they should have fun and it shouldn’t matter if you win or lose. My goal as a P.E. teacher is to help my students find a sport or activity that they like to do, so that they can keep doing that activity in the future to stay fit and healthy. I believe that some children will like the competitive side of activities and will join different leagues and compete in the future. Many of those types of competitive activities allow that person to have a higher caloric burn than a person jogging on a treadmill for the same amount of time. Those same people are more likely to stay committed to their fitness because they have a goal or team that it helps them stay motivated to continue their participation. Those students that don’t join a competitive sport will learn the importance of lifelong fitness and continue to set personal fitness goals and compete against themselves when they strive to achieve those goals.

Competition is healthy and is important in the future lives of our students. After reading the article by Alfie Kohn I agree that cooperation is very important in life. I also agree that cooperation is good for self-esteem. I also feel that if taught the properly, competition is healthy. When taught and supported appropriately in how it is approached, with goal setting, and a focus on the appreciation and respect for the rules, competition can actually lead to better results in fitness and fun. A young athlete learns that they may not be the starting varsity athlete in their position their freshman year but with discipline, goal setting and training, they can work to achieve that status as they get older. If they don’t achieve that particular goal they can look back and focus on what strides they were able to make and what successes they have had to build on in their next venture.

I believe we should teach our students how to compete in a healthy way not only because they may be competing in sports in the future but our goal as educators is to prepare them for the eventuality of competing in the work place. I know that Alfie Kohn says that competition in the work place is not useful, but it is not likely coming to an end anytime soon. We should teach our students how to compete so that when they interview for a job they have always wanted they will have the skills and preparation to compete for that job and give it all they got to win that job. The focus on goal setting and understanding and appreciating the rules is what will allow that person to keep a job over the next person when economic times get tough. It is also what can set that person aside when an opportunity presents itself to advance in a company.


Competitive vs. Cooperation, what a great topic, as a coach at the high school level and a mother, I feel that there is a lack of competitiveness in society today. I understand that there are times that we need to let our children have fun and learn to be cooperative with other students and athletes, but there has to be a line drawn. I’m tire of hearing parents say, “we’re here to have fun”, that may be the case for a T-Ball game for 6 – 8 year olds, but once they learn they basics they need to be taught to be competitive. We have been sucked into this world were “everybody needs to be happy and everybody has to play”, but look at our world today, has this really worked? I come from an old school rule that if you want to play you’ll have to prove to the coach that you are good enough to play. I learned at a very early age to be competitive ad it has helped me become the strong women I am today, I also teach my kids this so they too can enjoy sports and their life after sports. Teaching kids to work hard and be competitive for what they want is perfectly acceptable; when they learn these lessons in life early enough, it will benefit them when they are adults.

On the other side of the coin you are going to have those parents whose child may not be as talented as your own, and they think it is wrong to be competitive. What we need to ask those parents is what if this was to happen in the work place, do you think your child should get the job just because or do you think the best person for the job should get it? Parents sometimes can’t or wont think to the future, but growing up as a very competitive child I can truly say it has helped me in every aspect of my life, nothing was ever handed to me, I’ve had to work hard for what I want and that is what we should teach our children at an early stage in life.

A great side note that you had mentioned that I feel needs to be addressed more in youth sports is the sportsmanship while being competitive. We coach our youth to be competitive and that our goal is to win, but sometimes coaches forget to teach them “how” to be a good winner and/or a good looser. Good sportsmanship is very important in my basketball program and I’ve made it a note to always teach this in my feeder programs as well. Nothing is worse than a poor winner and a poor loser. Keeping your head high after a loss says more about a player then one who rubs it in when the win.

I really enjoyed your paper.

Thank you for all your comments. I too try very hard to teach my students about sportsmanship. I have a great lesson that I got online that teaches kids about being good losers and good winners. I go through this lesson at the beginning of every year and it has helped a lot. I think that society today has gotten soft if you will. Its all about feelings and how someone might get their feelings hurt or they might feel bad if they don't win. Yes I don't want kids to feel bad, but the kids today are not learning how to deal with these kinds of issues because they never have to face it. They need to win games to learn how to win but they also need to lose games to learn how to win. I agree that cometition is important to the future of our students lives and to society as a whole.
thanks agian for the commments

I think that both are equally important, but it depends on how and when they are being incorporated. Cooperation should be used in a school setting at an earlier age. At the school where I work, the students are seated in groups and are expected to work together to help all the other students so that no one is left behind. This goes along with the No Child Left Behind Act. Our school district implements this up to 8th grade. However, I believe it also causes problems because when these kids get to high school, they are more on their own and man struggle academically.

Competition should be used in sports/PE setting so that kids get a balance of the two. I also am our city's Little League Baseball summer recreation coordinator/supervisor/coach, and one problem I have is that the kids and their parents believe that the cooperation standard that our schools use should also be applied to sports, especially baseball. Our city officals don't really help either, as they do not want us playing other towns or cities and do not like the concept of All-Star teams. We are only supposed to play against our own teams and not let them compete. I believe this to be one of the factors that has led to our Legion baseball team being competitive against teams from smaller, weaker towns, but struggle mightily against bigger towns where they are allowed to compete at an earlier age and there is more competion.

I think there needs to be a balance of cooperation and competition and not too much of one or the other.

A.J. I agree with you. There really needs to be a balance in cooperative activities and competitive activities. I had a hard time picking a position on this topic, but I had to look what I felt my students needed most and that is competition. I think it is because cooperation is all they learned in the feeder school they came from. With a great balance of the two I think we could fix many of the problems we have in P.E. classes and in sports in general.

You make some good points about cooperation and competition. I feel that both types of sports are important to a developing child. As most of us has learn through our own sports participation, athletics teach life skills. Cooperation is a must in life. Things like attitude, being a team player, and working well with a diverse crowd are skills we all use everyday. However, competition should not be forgotten. Competitive sports builds work ethic and teaches athletes how to rebound from failure. It is hard to place either type of activity above the other. Nice Job!

Nicholas thank you for the comment. I do believe that their needs to be a balance in teaching cooperation and competition. I feel that young children need to be taught both so that they can become productive members of society.