Competiton is Natural in Youth Sports

Although sports participation is important young people really want to compete in sports

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Back when I was only seven years old I used to pick the players that I thought would be selected on my team each week.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t realize it but by even doing this I was being competitive.

By the time I was a teenager I learned that there were some fierce competitors out there. Around that time I also learned about the differences between our ‘ego’ and our state of ‘self’ and I became fascinated with this. I immediately began to compare the state of ‘ego’ and ‘self’ with the one person I knew best-me!

Here’s what I found out.

Your sense of ‘ego’ and ‘self’ compete with you:

All the experts will swear that ego is about a person’s feeling of self-importance. Often the phrase:

“He needs to boost his ego”

is used to describe how people require a sense of vindication as to how good they are so that they are appreciated by others. In many ways, a person’s ego is their sense of what they feel should be their identity to others.

On the other hand, there is a sense of self.

‘Self’ is referred to as being your essential being.

As a youth, often I judged myself on having an ‘ego’ and finding my sense of ‘self’. This is not a bad thing. Journeying into your ‘self’ worth can only bring you to understand yourself better. But, there is a limit to it when we try to understand our competitive ‘self’.

Sport is about competition:

The Cambridge English dictionary defines sport as:

“A game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/ or as a job.”

and so, sport is about being competitive.

Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

The opponent, ball, or object that you need to play your sport moves within a split second. You simply don’t have enough time to wonder about what your ego is at or what your true sense of self is when the action is in full flow.

After the game, you have time for reflection. That’s when you can begin to look a little deeper. But, during play, you need to focus.

Being competitive is natural:

Before you are a young athlete you are a child. And before that, you are yet to be born. But, up to the time of your conception, you’ll have had to fight off hundreds of millions of other sperms to make it to your mother’s reproductive tract. Just by being born, you are in the top 4–8% of your father’s sperm. By then you may not have realized it but you are a winner.

How to easily stave off competition:

Once you land on planet earth you now have a new race and this is with almost 8 billion other people. This race even has a name, it’s called the human race. But as you develop you begin to realize that when sport becomes the main lifestyle choices you`ve already gotten rid of billions of others from your race.

If you are American, you now have only 30 million other young athletes to measure yourself up against. Less again, if you are sure of your specific sport as by the time you reach High School there are only 8 million people of your age playing sport in your country.

Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

As you will be competing in only one of the fifty US states and you can generally only play up to three sports and against only your gender, well, now you’ve reduced your odds considerably again.

But still, you must compete.

If you are an individual sportsperson you have to look at yourself if something goes wrong or if you lose. Unfortunately, the reality is, if you continue to lose you won’t have any way of practicing or training to get better. Without other athletes to have in a competition, you won’t even have a hobby not to mention competitors that are going to improve your overall performance as an athlete.

In a team sport, you can get enjoyment from practicing against your teammates, but if you don’t put in your best shift then even your training teammates will be ticked off with you.

And so, the nature of sport is competition.

Being rewarded for participation:

In the past few years, there is a huge push towards rewarding young athletes for participating in sport. Many young children get token gestures like medals, ribbons, or certificates just for turning up at a competition. But, the reality is on any given day of competition there can only be one winner and even small children know this.

Before athletes enter into youth competition they play at a more informal level. This may happen with a neighbor, a friend, or even just a family member. For sure, children find this fun but often there is a child who wants to raise the stakes and introduce an element of competition to the mix.

Things like:

‘let’s see who can build the highest blocks?’


‘how many dolls have you?’

are the formation of competition in the small child’s mind.

Photo by Sandra Gabriel on Unsplash

Because you need at least two blocks for building or two dolls to imagine they are relating to each another, then these questions are bound to arise unprompted by adults, at some stage. The answers to these questions begin to establish how competitive the other child is.

So although you may not think you are a competitive athlete, if you are a youth or are a parent or guardian of a youth who plays sport you are competing and although the ‘you’ may be your sense of ‘self’, before your ‘self’ existed there was a competition going on and guess who won?

You did.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books

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