Everybody Wins Vs. Healthy Competition

Updated on January 21, 2009
N.W. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
5 answers

Hi! I'm just curious about your experiences with an "everybody wins" philosophy when it comes to sports or teaching the kids about healthy competition and how to be a modest winner and gracious loser.

In "everybody wins" the focus is on having fun. No one keeps score, and usually all participants "win" a medal or ribbon. Everyone goes home with the same token.

In "healthy competition" the kids are encouraged to do their best. There is a first place winner, second place and so on. Everyone takes home some sort of prize, sometimes it's a participation plaque or trophy.

I'm just curious about your experiences with the pros and cons of each.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for all your opinions! I'm the coach of a competitive tumbling team and we do "healthy competition" where every kid gets a ribbon, but not everyone wins first. The age ranges are from 3-13. We've been going strong for 3 years but are running into criticism because not everyone "wins." We most definitely focus on having fun, but also on how to be good winners and finishers (I don't like to say loser). Some people are afraid that we will hurt kids' self esteem if they "lose." But as you all pointed out, kids know anyway! I'm glad I can have some responses to share from uninterested parties, and who did not know I was a coach when I asked the question. THANKS!

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

In my experience as an athlete and not-too-long-ago student... Kids know the difference between winning and losing, regardless of whether or not there is a score keeper or medals, etc. If the gym teachers/coaches/etc are not going to rank achivement, trust me, the kids will do it on their own.

I wonder if it ever made the girl who was always picked last for kickball feel any better when our gym teacher MANDATED that she be chosen first each class. Bet that mede her feel GREAT!

Where's the incentive to achieve greatness if greatness and mediocrity or subpar performance are all recognized/rewarded the same?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

As the mom to 4 boys, I could probably write a book on this subject. Whether you are "officially" keeping score or not, the kids are keeping score. They know who is winning and who is losing. The everybody wins approach works until your child is about 6, then all bets are off and it's all about winning. The parents are just as bad or even worse than the kids.

My kids have lots of trophies that they got just for being on the team and I think that's excessive. I'm not saying they shouldn't get a certificate or something small, but a trophy every year just for playing?

Call me a grouch, but as I get older (I'm 45) I just wonder why they need that kind of stuff. Shouldn't playing and having fun with their friends be a good enough reward?

I have to stop typing here.......I was going to bring up the snack you have to have at the games, but I'm dropping it.


answers from Chicago on

I, personally, think the "everybody wins" philosophy is almost entirely responsible for creating an entire generation of self-entitled, non-confrontational kids.

I was raised in a time where if you won, you got a trophy. If you lost, you got a "good game" pat on the back and went home. Not everyone got to play in every game. It teaches kids about competition - that they already clearly know about - and it's up to the parents to teach them how to handle situations where they were not the best player, etc...

I think today's situations are out of hand. Where you can't bring Valentine's to class unless you bring them for the WHOLE class, etc...

I have to manage many of these "kids" that were raised that way today, as they are becoming adults entering the work force. The expect to be handed everything, and to work for nothing. There is a very clear differentiator between Gen X and Gen Y with this type of behavior. And just in my daily experience, the people that were raised to understand disappointment and competition are the ones that handle "real life" so much better.

Long rant for, I think healthy competition is the way to go.



answers from Chicago on

I really think it depends on the event and the age of the children. I have always played games, fairly, with my children. I have never LET them win and I am very against letting a child win because, in life, sometimes you just lose, you brush yourself off and get back in the game. Sometimes, it's in losing that we learn the biggest lesson (learned that the hard way this Spring!)

I think in healthy competition, it is nice that all teams get some kind of recognition. However, I think competitions become unhealthy because, a lot of the parents are putting so much emphasis on winning and not enough on fairness or good sportsmanship. In baseball, for example, the players that are deemed "the best" are the ones who always get the opportunities to pitch more and get the plumb positions. By the time the 6th or 7th game of the season is played, you just know your child will be overlooked if they are one of those kids who "tries hard" but the coach doesn't want to risk losing a game by trying your child on a different position - so they don't get rotated, even though your child would love to try a new position.

I think competition is good as long as it is fair. The older my children get, the sadder it makes me to see my children involved in competition where parents are so aggressive and blatant in their comments to their own children, the coaches, even getting into arguments with other parents in front of their kids.

I like competition. I just like to see good sportsmanship and I like to see well-behaved, enthusiastic parents enjoying it. Thanks for the question.



answers from Chicago on

I think parents (and non-parents who seem to obsess about this) are a lot more worried about it than kids.

The majority of activities my kids sign up for (classes) they get some sort of participation certificate or ribbon. The majority of sports activities (teams, with practices, games, etc.) have some sort of participation token (usually a ribbon) plus the best teams or players or whatever get something else like a trophy.

I can't think of any sports teams examples where there aren't any winners past pre-school age. But I can tell you that my kids love getting their ribbons or trophies or whatever, and when they put in the time, practice, and effort of being on a team, I think it's right for them to be recognized in some way for that effort.

ETA - funny that I answered your question without actually answering the question about sportsmanship. I don't think trophies or ribbons have any impact on sportsmanship, nor do I think kids get confused about who is best.

Next question: Participation Trophies-what Is Your Opinion?