Competition Improves Us All
In his book No Contest: The Case against Competition (1986), Alfie Kohn poses the question, “Is competition more enjoyable?” (277). He proceeds to argue in favor of noncompetitive activities by eliminating competition completely in his No Contest article. Based on research, a student interview and a study by the NYU child center, we will look at the advantages of competition and the effects it has on each of us. Since the Ancient Mesopotamian Era and Gilgamesh, sports and games have been competitive (Gale). It is safe to argue that competition is wired in each of us from the time we are very young. Think of a child who has older brothers and sisters; now imagine a time when Mom, or another respected adult gave the other siblings attention while ignoring that particular child. What is the child most likely to do? Most would infer that the child will act out or do something to make him or herself noticed by the adult, they are correct. Children naturally compete for attention, making it safe to say that they would naturally compete in other activities also. Competition not only starts in young children, but it dates back to the oldest civilization known to us, Mesopotamia. Mesopotamian games and sports were competitive; although we have little records to show, what we do have suggests that all of the games and sports they played were competitive (Gale). Competition has been instilled in each of us since the beginning. Kohn cites Michael Novak [author of The Joy of Sports] to support his idea that play frees us from seriousness and the real world, but competition does not (279). Although it is safe to say that play does indeed create an escape from reality, competition does the same. When playing a noncompetitive game in class, most students seemed to enjoy themselves although they did not try as hard. However, being noncompetitive proved less enjoyable than the competitive game and lasted a shorter amount of time. At the end of a...
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