Winning may be the aim of the game, but a new survey suggests that many children would not be bothered if there were no winners and losers in school sport.
While most youngsters believe it is important to experience the feeling of coming first, a large proportion say they would not be fussed – and would even be relieved – if competition was removed from sport.
In fact, the survey suggests it is mothers and fathers who put more store by who wins and who loses, with some admitting that they would be less interested in watching their child play sport if there was no final result.
Executives at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Chance to Shine cricket charity, which commissioned the survey, raised concerns that children are not bothered about competition in sport.
The poll questioned 1,000 children and 1,000 parents for their views on competition in school sport.
Just over nine in ten (91 per cent) of the eight to 16-year-olds questioned agreed that experiencing winning and losing is important.
But almost two-thirds (62 per cent) said they would either be relieved or not bothered if the competitive element was removed from school sport.
The survey reveals that many children believe that competition is a key reason why their parents watch them play, with almost two in five (39 per cent) saying that their mothers and fathers would be less interested if there were no winners and losers and the end of the match.
Just under one in four (22 per cent) of the parents questioned admitted that they would be less interested in their son or daughter’s school sports if there was no competition involved.
The poll goes on to suggest that so-called “pushy parents” are on the rise and standing on the touchlines.
About 86 per cent of the youngsters surveyed, along with 97 per cent of the parents questioned, said that they felt there are some mothers and fathers who are more concerned about winning than the children themselves.
Asked what was most important about school sport, both parents and children agreed that teamwork and exercise are the key aspects.
Wasim Khan, chief executive of Chance to Shine, and MCC chief executive Derek Brewer raised concerns that many children would not mind if there was no competition in school sport.
“It is worrying to see that so many children would be relieved to see competition removed from sport,” Mr Khan said.
“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.”
Mr Brewer said that competition and fair play are a key part of the club’s Spirit of Cricket message.
“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,” he said.
The Opinion Matters poll was commissioned to mark a campaign by the two organisations to encourage the importance of competition and fair play in schools.
In total, 1,000 eight to 16-year-olds and 1,000 parents with children in this age group were surveyed between 28 March and 2 April.