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Is Winning Important?

Updated on July 8, 2012

Me first!

Teacher, teacher me first!

I desperately need to get this off my chest before I burst at the seams like a 1st grader anticipating a candy bar. Of course winning is important! It's elemental/basic human behavior. It's wired into us from birth. So why the encouragement of 'no winners' in school activities? I have yet to put my children in school (too young), but I've heard about sports and activities, usually the typical competitive type, that declare no winners.

Children well before school age know the difference between winning and losing. I looked over the various definitions of "losing" and saw a few words included that caught my attention: "Being deprived of something". God forbid children be deprived of something. I don't like the mentality many parents have of giving their children nearly everything they want and lack of experience with hardships in life. parent shouldn't have to go broke to give their kids the latest toys. The kids will grow physically, but be stunted psychologically, behaviorally, and socially.

No losers is nonsense in my mind. I've seen my daughter, and every other kid I've been around, determined to win...even if it means cheating. That's how ingrained this natural behavior is in human beings. Well, even the animal kingdom needs a clear winner or else many would starve- it's called the food chain. Somebody wins and somebody loses. Somebody is first and somebody is second. This is based on survival as well, which further proves my point about this being instinctual.

All that being said, kids need to lose to learn how to deal with the feelings that go with it. They also need to play to win to develop team work. when a team wins, it usually means they've worked together and utilized each person's strengths. If there is winning and losing, a parent has an opportunity to curb the natural instinct to cheat. This is wrong an should be taught through wins and losses.

My daughter is in dance and the dance instructor asked if we wanted to order her a trophy. I asked 'What did she win'? and the answer is basically it's fun and encouraging to receive a trophy. My thoughts; what's better than that? Receiving a trophy you win. Someday I hope my daughter will win at something and she'll get that trophy and it will mean a great deal to her having earned and received it, having worked hard at something enough to feel proud, and feeling motivated to achieve more.

I think children, and people in general, need to learn how uncomfortable losing is.

"If you can accept losing, you can't win" Vince Lombardi

Young children know the difference between winning and losing
Young children know the difference between winning and losing
Choose your path
Choose your path
Not a bad place to be
Not a bad place to be

Don't be such a loser!

If you're not a winner, then you're a loser. And what is wrong with being a loser sometimes? Is it wise for us to teach our children there is no loser. Our country was built on losers. People who failed and lost at something only to do better...become great at something when they TRIED again. i emphasized 'tried' because that's an important part of losing. Try better next time.

I think losing can be a greater teacher and reward than winning in many scenarios. Don't get me wrong I don't believe losing is the new wining because I can't hardly tolerate the incurable optimist or blatant liar and over-compensater...someone who turns losing into the new winning. Losing is not the new winning.

In presidential elections there is a clear winner and clear loser of course, but as times goes on the elected president begins turning his losses into proverbial wins- twisting the words and the circumstances to make his failures look like a process towards winning. Blurring the lines between winning and losing is

Losing is:

  • a compass to see how you're doing in the scheme of things.
  • a gauge to realize where you're at now and where you want to be in the future.
  • a test to see how you handle yourself when things don't go your way.
  • a learning experience.
  • for children, losing is a good time to teach your child how to handle (it) and their emotions
  • a blessing because without losing you will not know how sweet victory is when you reach that point.
  • a stepping stone on your way to reaching your full potential.

One argument for having 'no losers' is that it will raise or stabilize self-esteem. Studies have shown that people who reach their goals, set up small steps to achieve the goal, and the small "wins" produce the necessary self- esteem to reach the end goal. In life, self- esteem comes from gathering and taking note of one's small successes or "wins".

When you think you can't try any harder, think about an ant.
When you think you can't try any harder, think about an ant.

Crossing the finish line...

What does the future hold for kids who don't lose? That's the real loss. What's possible? Well, it could effect their ability to make and achieve goals, try harder, sameness, seek raises when employed, stay motivated. We are essentially making the winner feel indifferent so the loser feels better.

For those of you who've read my stuff before, I'll preach it again. We are such a chronically optimistic society- nothing can be bad or negative. Hardships are about the only way people actually learn and therefore grow and mature. I've asked "Is Winning Important", but let me rephrase that, "Is resiliency important"? The number one necessary trait for humanity's survival is resiliency. How does one learn resiliency if there are no hardships, if they don't learn from failures?

One recent article I saw stated, "We want to light the little fire in them. We aren't geared towards creating elite athletes, we just want them to be passionate,” said Lee Richardson, the West Shore-based Sportball program director for Vancouver Island. "We try to have (the game) end in a tie".

Be passionate? Light the little fire in them? Competition and winning will light that little fire! You bet! They want them to learn the fundamentals of the sport. I thought winning was the fundamental of sport. And "a tie"! That's cheating if you're fixing the game. "If they enjoy it, they'll move on to a league". Yep, and get a huge wake-up call when competition for winning is everything.

"Everyone gets a turn, no one sits on the sidelines". What? Here's a little story. Once upon a time a 7th grade girl (ok, it's me) was sitting on the sidelines of a school girls' basketball team. It was there on the sidelines that I realized basketball was definitely not for me- not good at it and didn't enjoy it. It was also what sparked me and a few friends to start the Drama Club at that school. I loved being on stage...and I later found sports I really enjoyed. Win-win situation. If I hadn't sat on the sidelines and was involved as much as all the other players, I probably wouldn't have figured out what I was good at.

In life, everything is win or lose: war, sports and the Olympics, presidential elections, contests, the lotto, getting a job, winning the girl, and all gamblse in life. We are over-concerned about grades and yet winning is of little importance. It just doesn't make sense. Losing is an excellent chance to teach your kids how to handle their emotions in a certain setting. We get past the terrible two's so we can survive the losing meltdown.

"Whoever said, "It's not whether you win or lose that counts," probably lost." Martina Navratilova

Basketball- I may be 6 feet tall but it is not my thing.
Basketball- I may be 6 feet tall but it is not my thing.


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    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Dolphan~ good to see you. Great point about winning not being everything. i wish I had included that in the hub :) I also believe winning and the notion of it fosters team work, enough to get along and score a goal or something to that effect. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Dolphan5 profile image

      Dolphan5 5 years ago from Warwick R.I

      Hello izetti,

      What a topic!

      To answer the question: Is Winning Important?

      My answer is Yes, winning is important. If we substitute the word success

      for winning the point becomes clearer. We need to have success to build and achieve. That being said----- Is Winning the most Important?

      My answer isNo, Being a winner or successful at any and all costs is ultimately self defeating.

      The key is balance. Competition of any kind is beneficial in many ways, the wins and losses,or success and failures help us to understand what we are doing right or wrong, what we like and don't like, what may come easily to us and what we will have to work at etc.

      It's also a tool to gauge how conduct ourselves in either circumstance. This can speak volumes about our personality and what adjustments may be needed.

      Lastly for any win or loss sucess or failure to be truly beneficial it has to be evenly matched in whatever respects we are dealing with.

      A mismatch is a waste of effort as it proves nothing to either party.

      Thumbs up! Interesting, Useful etc etc.

      Well written.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Emmyboy~ good to see you on here. Teaching kids how to lose can be beneficial for them in the future. I've learned a lot through losing or not being the best and it made me strive to do better.

      Hello Drbj~ i remember watching Martina play tennis when I was young. I used the quote because tennis turned out to be my sport of choice but I wouldn't have learned that if I hadn't tried basketball and totally sucked at it :)) Thanks for stopping by.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, izettle. Martina certainly knew what she was talking about . . . and so do you, my dear, with this outstanding treatise and your conclusion: 'everything in life is win or lose.' Brava!

    • Emmyboy profile image

      Emmyboy 5 years ago from Nigeria

      You are right but even though I am well aware that losing can and do serve as a feedback mechanism, I hate losing...

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Sara- yes an ant comes to mind every time I feel like something is too difficult.

    • Sara Algoe profile image

      Sara Algoe 5 years ago from Phoenix, Ariz

      That picture of an ant is a million dollar snap. Work of genius. Really like reading this hub.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks remaniki- yes, it has been a while. I'll have to stop by your corner of the hubworld.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi izettl,

      Long time. I have been inactive on HP but have come back now with a bang and happy about it too. Great hub izettl. I love the topic. As you rightly said, you need to experience failure to know the joy of winning, otherwise life would be boring if it were full of winning situations. Kids do adjust to wins and losses very well than adults do, I would say. Good read. I am sharing it across the hub community. Cheers, Rema