By Kinnaman, Daniel E.
District Administration , Vol. 44, No. 5
"BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOgity! Let's go racing boys!" declares the good-natured Darrell Waltrip at the start of the Daytona 500 and other NASCAR races. It's a call to fun, camaraderie, and ferocious competition, and it's understood by those listening that without the competition, there wouldn't be the excitement, the fun, or the preparation that produces excellence. Heck, there wouldn't be a race.
The same fun-filled competitive spirit inspired the Monday night autumn cry, "Let's get ready for some football!" Throughout sports, competition is what makes us watch, it's what makes us participate, and it's the spirit of competition that makes it exciting. It's what made this year's Super Bowl so great. Even the undefeated New England Patriots--the first to finish a 16-game regular season unbeaten--were not simply granted football's highest honor. No, they had to earn one more victory by outplaying, out-hustling, out-hoping and out-scoring the two-touchdown underdog New York Giants. They didn't. They failed. Despite their hard work and diligent effort, they fell short. For the team and their fans, it hurt.
No Kick]ball, No Tag
Perhaps that's why "competition" has become a dirty word to some education leaders, and why traditional competitive games such as kickball and tag have been banned on a growing number of school playgrounds. We don't want anyone's feelings hurt, we don't want anyone to feel slighted, and above all, we don't want anyone to lose. That may sound nice, but it's impractical, nonsensical, and does a disservice to the children in our charge.
Eliminating competition is impractical because it's fundamental to the American way of life and natural to the human experience. In Connecticut, one school principal outlawed kickball and soccer from recess and suggested that students jump rope or play with hula hoops instead. That doesn't eliminate competition; it just changes the focus to hula hoops and jump ropes. Without proper policing, innovative youngsters might even turn them into team sports. Maybe the principal should just have them all stand still for recess. That might eliminate bruised knees and bruised feelings, but not competition.
And it shouldn't. Trying to eliminate competition is nonsensical because it isn't bad to the contrary, it's good. …