Last Friday, my daughter's school held their annual field day...although I think the term they use is "Fun Day". Contrast this to my childhood's "track and field day" and there you'll find the first difference.
For purposes of explaining what I saw, please note that I understand that the older kids DO have some sort of competition involved...to what degree, I'm unsure.
Riley's events for 1st grade included jogging around a track, face painting, dance, obstacle course, 50 yard dash (with no winner), relay race (with no winner), and finally my favorite...kicking a ball (with no measurement of distance, urgency, and/or of course, no winner). Now, I'm not saying that there must be a winner for each event (although it wouldn't hurt anything), but for crying out loud, let's have some healthy competition!
Blake and I were the only parents around us urging and cheering her on to do her best, run her fastest, two-bits, four-bits...you get it. In fact, I had to restrain myself as I realized that if I truly yelled/cheered at the level in which I wanted to, I would have received dirty looks, eye-rolls, and possibly risked embarrassing Riley. But really, what harm would it do to simply put a finish line at the end and give place ribbons to the kids. They would at least have a sense of accomplishment of finishing a race. First graders can handle a little competition...they can handle not placing first, or second, or third. But they aren't being given the chance to push themselves and compete.
Isn't that part of life?
Isn't that how a team comes together?
To me, this falls right in line with what has become our "everybody wins, nobody loses" mentality of the last couple of decades. My elementary school field days were some of the most memorable of my childhood...not because I won ribbons or even won my heat...but because of the excitement it brought. I remember preparing for weeks prior determining who would run which race, who would relay together, who would fit best for the 3 legged race. And when the big day came, we were so excited to be cheering for each other, that the winners/losers weren't so much an issue, as was the bonding that often results from competing together.
I know these kids have it in them. And I understand that there are some who just might not enjoy the racing side of things, and that's okay...there are always work-arounds or special roles for those exceptions. But what I'm saying is, schools should take a close look at the opportunity lost with these children. They're missing a chance to allow kids to practice and exhibit real-life skills (that I know her school is already teaching) at this early age...sportsmanship, goal-setting, motivation, healthy competition, and more. These little ones could do well with a bit more competition...not only do I believe it's good for them, but I truly think they'd rise to the occasion and thrive.