Have today’s youth lost the thirst for competition?

Have today’s youth lost the thirst for competition?
May 27
10:48 2021

I know sports evolve over time; however, I think the thing that should always stay the same is the heart for competition. Unfortunately, for many that is not the main goal of sports anymore. It seems sports is almost singularly about winning, and winning alone for many.

I get that the object of competition is to determine a winner and a loser, but I don’t feel that should be the only focus when it comes to sports. For many athletes, having the opportunity to compete against the best and measure yourself against them holds more weight.

This lack of competition started somewhat on the professional level, but now has trickled down all the way to the Pop Warner Football level. I think the kids nowadays look at how frequently professional athletes switch teams and partner together for a better chance at winning and kids are mimicking that action.

What really prompted me to write this article was a conversation I had with an area coach about how good a player on his team was going to be next season, considering how well he did this year under stressful conditions.

Instead of the coach telling me how he was going to tailor his game plan toward the kid’s skills, he tells me that the player has chosen to transfer to another school in the county. I was amazed that the player chose to leave his original school, especially since they had a decent chance to make a deep playoff run with the talent they had coming back.

This is a story I have heard all too often since I have arrived here in Forsyth County and I am sure it is prevalent in other areas as well. I am just confused as to where the sense of competition went.

I want to clarify that I am not condemning kids for transferring schools. I am only talking about players that transfer because they fear competition, whether it be from another player on their team or the desire to play with an already established winning team.

I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I never wanted to team up with other great players in order to win. My philosophy in sports has always been to play against the best and try my best to beat them.

I think it’s kind of weak to play with a team for several years and then choose to leave that school for another, simply because the new school has a tradition of winning. Why not try to be the catalyst for turning around the fortunes of your current team? Also, where does that leave your teammates who have shed blood, sweat and tears with you for years?

I never wanted the best talent on my team. I preferred to play on a team with less talent than others and then beat the team with more talent. I was confident in my abilities as an athlete, so I felt that with my presence on the field or court, that would give my team a better chance at winning. Also, if we did win, I would take more satisfaction in the victory.

When I was a kid, I played multiple sports. I fondly remember playing football and running track with players from around my neighborhood and the friendships I built with some of the guys on the team will last a lifetime. I couldn’t imagine leaving those guys just because I felt another team was better.

During my senior year, my high school team won the state championship, so I can’t really argue leaving that team for another. However, my track team was good, but not great. Our rival team, Potomac High School, was a powerhouse team in the area. They dominated track and field, not only in our area, but pretty much the entire state of Virginia that year. My team did not have a shot at beating them for a team championship, but I had no thoughts of leaving my school to join their team.  

Even though we had no realistic shot at beating them, the pride I felt in giving it my all in an attempt to do so was almost as satisfying as winning. Because a few of my teammates and I chose to stand and face the biggest and baddest team around, our track team is remembered as the best the school has ever had.

When I got to college, that mentality stayed the same for me. Initially I attended a small Division II school by the name of St. Augustine’s University. The school has a rich track and field history, but when we would attend track meets, many of the Power 5 Division I schools would automatically dismiss us.

I took great satisfaction in defeating some of those schools that had all of the resources an athlete could ask for, when we had a weight room in a basement and a track that was mostly dirt at the time. Once again, I never even thought of transferring to a large school with a big budget just to have the chance to win.

I don’t think it’s the fault of just the professional athletes. I feel it goes back to another article I wrote about the entitlement many kids feel growing up because of this need for inclusion. We now give kids trophies for any and everything, even if they finish in last place in some cases. So it’s no wonder when they grow up, they have that same need for recognition.

I really feel that transferring players and school choice, or whatever you call it, has really damaged several schools around the county, while enhancing others. There is no need to name the schools that have suffered because we all know who those schools are. We also know the schools that routinely benefit from kids transferring from other schools.

This is the reason why I have so much respect for players like Damian Lillard who, instead of leaving his current team for greener pastures, is fighting tooth and nail to take his team to the title.

I know some people may take offense to my opinion on this matter, but if you sit back and think about what kids should get out of sports, I think your stance may change.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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