This I Believe

Courtney - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 5, 2006
Age Group: 65+
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This I believe…

I believe in healthy competition. It is what makes America great. We encounter competition everywhere from reality TV, to our careers, to little league baseball. I believe that we should teach our children to engage in healthy competition. It instills many values in our children. How we teach children to compose themselves in competition will ultimately shape their character later in life. Many parents today shun competition because they do not wish to see their child fail at anything. However, failure should be seen as a learning experience.

Today many parents, teachers, and coaches are nervous to promote healthy competition among children. This becomes evident at children’s sports events where there is no score kept and every team gets a trophy. We are afraid that the child’s confidence will be shattered. We also don’t want to admit that not all children have the same abilities. However, I am worried by not recognizing the ability and success of the winners, we are stealing their drive to achieve excellence. What incentive do they have to continue doing great work if they are not recognized?

How we handle ourselves in competition defines our character. Whether the competition is academic or athletic, children learn many values. By competing, children learn to strive to do their best. Competition provides an atmosphere where children can develop and discover their talents. In addition, they learn good sportsmanship. They learn to be fair and treat other competitors with respect and dignity. By not allowing children to compete, I think we are placing less emphasis on these important character-building values.

We all have failed at something in our lives. In my life, I have been in many competitions. Some of them I have excelled in. Others, I have failed miserably. When I was 9 years old, I tried my hand at playing a season of little league baseball. I was a complete disaster; I must have been the worst player on the team! However, I learned more from my “baseball tragedy” than I have ever learned from my successes. I learned not to be a quitter. After the first week of practices, I begged my parents to let me quit. However, they refused to let me, and I am glad that they did. Failure is one of life’s certainties. Of course, my feelings were hurt when I could not hit the ball, but that’s life! I was praised for having the courage to try something new. My parents also taught me to recognize the talent and hard work of the winners.

I believe that America’s driving force is competition. In every form of competition, there are important character building lessons to be learned. Although it is devastating to see a child fail at something, they are stronger than we give them credit for. I knew that my life was not over just because I was not the best ballplayer. It is how we teach children to handle failure that is important.