“Children Need to Play, Not Compete” by Jessica Statsky Review

“Children Need to Play, Not Compete”

Jessica Statsky, in her piece titled “Children Need to Play, Not Compete”, makes the argument competitive sports structured for children between the ages of 5 to 6 years leave a negative impact on the sociological and psychological wellbeing of such children. Categorically, the authors focus is on competitive sport activities, which might entail non-physical and physical contact between the participants. Jessica, in support of her controversial position regarding organized competitive sports for children outlines the detriment effects of competitive sports on development of children who are under the age of 12.

She bases her criticism on the objective and foundation of competitive sports. According to her, these events emphasize “winning and competition” among the participants. Jessica Statsky points out team coaches and parents are supposed to bear the blame for being supporters of such events. In her essay, she argues competitive sports encourage children into taking part in physical actions. These sports also entail physical injuries and confrontations, which also inflict physical and mental pain on the children. Children who play competitive sports are also at risk of suffering psychological trauma. A large percentage of children involved in competitive sports are often under pressure to meet the expectations of parents and outperform rivals. Consequently, they develop the fear of failure and this overrides sports objective, which is having fun. Thirdly, she states competitive games are extremely selective, as such lead to discrimination in schools. A large number of children get denied the opportunity to develop their talent because of bias in player selection. To address competitive sports impact on children, she recommends coaches of little leagues should attend training workshops offered at local universities. On top of training workshops, she asserts moderation and modification of rules observed by athletics can mitigate the negative effects caused by competitive sports on children

Personal Response on the Essay

In my opinion, I concur with the argument made by the author that competitive sports encourage children to engage in physical actions. Some of the sports activities that are most thrilling and adored involve physical interaction. Rugby, judo and football games make it possible for players to grapple, tangle and tackle each other. Players, driven by the desire to win are likely to act in a reckless manner causing physical injuries. Hence, young children are at great risk of sustaining injuries in the course of competitive sports. Though in rugby and football injuries are common, instances of injuries for 12 year olds are severe since the body structure of these children has not developed fully. In addition, there is the fear of sustaining injuries caused by other players, something I can relate to personally. As a teenager, I was aware I had talent in football but fear of my older teammates injuring me intentionally kept me off the field until high school. Further, such injuries can also cause permanent damage never be reversed.

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Moreover, due to immaturity and misunderstandings among children, accidental injuries while in the field can lead to further rivalry among the players off the pitch. Off –pitch rivalry among schoolmates discourages friendship development and encourages intolerance amongst developing children. Such scenarios are not a representation of ideal sportsmanship demonstrated by athletes and yet, children below ages of 12 years are unable to comprehend the responsibilities expected to them.

I seem to agree strongly with Jessica Statsky’s argument that organized competitive sport activities might result to psychological trauma among children. Competitive sports have psychological effects that are adverse on professional sportsmen and women who already, have undergone psychological guidance and counseling. Therefore, what happens when children who are emotionally unbalanced are placed under similar circumstances?

Competitive sports have two results, either a loser or a winner. I agree with the assertion made by the author that children who participate in competitive sports are often under intense pressure. Pressure from the team coaches and parents to win often overrides the objective of sports, which is fun. Often, a large percentage of children take part in competitive sports against their will. As a result, they become inactive, stressed and dull due to various reasons. First, they are afraid of disappointing parents who might label them as losers if they do not win. Second, they are often forced to associate with their teammates whom they might not share similar true talents and interests. Thirdly, when they lose in competitive matches, these children often become frightened and they tend to avoid taking part in other activities due to self-doubt.

I also relate with the suggestion made by the author that competitive sports are very selective. Recalling my high school experience, team players got selected on the basis of their performance. There was no room for talents building and development. Regrettably, a large number of students were never given the opportunity to play in school teams yet, a large number of players never featured on the school team ended up as professional football players after high school. These players also went ahead to cultivate their talents. In all levels, competitive sports scouts only for best performers and never focuses on mentoring of upcoming talents. Application of such selective approach as seen in little leagues has effects that are far worse on young players who do not have the ability of justifying their talents but do have potential. Majority of children between the ages of 12 and 6 years old believe what they are told. When they are left wrongfully out of a team, it is an indication they do not have the talent needed to take part in competitive sports.


Though competitive sports should influence children positively, I agree with the assertion of the author that it adversely affects development of children between ages 12 to 6. Jessica Statsky, through her unbiased argument conclusively justifies her criticism of competitive sports that involves children who are undergoing mental and physical development. She demonstrates precisely how competitive sports can negatively influence the physical, sociological and psychological state of children.

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