Where has all the competition gone?
Competition just seems to fade from your life when you’re an adult.
Unless you participate in a team sport or battle it out in the courtroom for your job, it feels like the thrill of competition is absent from your life.
Perhaps this accounts for the emergence of the sideline parent. As adults we’ve given up our own Saturday morning sport so our children can participate in theirs. And now all we have is the taste of it vicariously from the sidelines.
When you’re female, the loss of competition seems to start earlier in your life. In primary school we raced around the playground, played run across and tip with the boys, beat them at hand ball and up ball. We got to experience the thrill of pitting yourself against someone else.
When we got to high school, suddenly we all sat down and talked at lunch time. Ball sports were the domain of boys, and it was just no longer accepted that girls were physically active in play at lunch time. Sure we weren’t made to sit down, no one told us we couldn’t play hand ball. But the ‘accepted norm’ is perhaps one of the most powerful forces there is in making sure people follow a path.
When my second son was young, I used to go to the gym a lot, putting him in creche for half an hour so I could snatch some exercise. A couple of local girls schools would have a bunch of students who came at lunch times for their weekly sport. In comparison to the boys schools, it seems like it just wasn’t ‘acceptable’ for girls to present themselves as pushing themselves, as fit, confident and powerful. They mulled around on elliptical trainers and treadmills at a snails pace.
Apart from pockets of competitive netball and rarer pockets of girls soccer, it seems that our culture is not supporting girls to embrace the thrill of being strong and fit and pitting yourself against another.
Competition these days is something we root for watching someone else. We get behind the competitors in Master Chef or Biggest Loser. But we don’t thrash it out ourselves.
As I’m getting fitter lately (thanks to the encouragement and company of a great training partner!) more and more I’m feeling my body working better and getting faster. And I’ve realised I’m itching for some competition. I like the idea of giving my new found fitness a test run. I like the idea of when we have a family race with the kids of giving it my all and trying to run my partner into the ground. He’ll beat me (I never could sprint), but oh boy it will be fun and thrilling to try to win!
I’m missing competition in my life.
At work we’re in the throws of organising the 2011 Bake Off. I love this event for the little bit of competition and friendly banter it can throw into my working life. Some people would prefer it isn’t competitive though. They don’t like competition. But for me I’m like ‘don’t snatch the only competition I have at work away from me’. I need the adrenalin hit!
It’s not that I need to win, but I like the taste of the battle. I like the thrill of pitting myself against someone else and giving it a shot.
I love the silly competitive banter you can have as an adult too. Sledging, as long as it’s understood to be in good spirits, is a hell of a lot of fun.
Why can’t we bring competition back into girls and adults lives a bit more?
Sure too much competition can be stressful and unhealthy, but surely not enough is monotonous and boring: part of the routine of a mundane life?
So do you wanna race?
Bring it on!
Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dws/125171917/sizes/z/in/photostream/ with thanks to D W S.