“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community”

Anthony J D’Angelo

One of my earliest sporting memories from childhood is competing at the community games. At that time the community games was the only organised sporting activity available in our area and was run through the local primary school.

As such, It was with a great sense of nostalgia that I recently attended a community games finals with my own son but I was slightly taken aback to see the competitive edge and win at all cost mentality that was palpable around the heats and final of the U8 boys 80 metres.

I found this atmosphere completely at odds with my own experience years earlier and also the mission statement of the community games which aims to “provide opportunities that appeal to young people” and “foster participation, fun and the development of new skills”

In doing this the community games will “help build an inclusive and strong community spirit”

The community games should be a celebration of community and an opportunity for people to come together to enjoy their children’s participation in sport.

Of course, there are races to be run and there will be winners and losers and It is a fabulous thing for a child to receive their medal and stand on the podium and it is a great sense of achievement to be the best at something you love.

But I can’t help but feel that somehow along the way the message was lost.

If we take the boys U8 as an example there were, I think, 4 heats with 8 participants in each a total of 32 boys. Out of these 32 boys would come 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal winner.

So are we left with 29 losers?

Of course not but placing a huge emphasis on the outcome rather than the process will make children feel they have underachieved or failed if they are outside that top 3 finish.

As parents we all want our children to be their best and achieve as much as they can. At the heart of all we do for our children we want them to be happy and most of us, as adults, associate winning with happiness so it is with the best intentions that we will push our children to perform better at sport.

However, We as the parents have the opportunity, ability and responsibility as a community to ensure every child has a good experience win or lose and we must remember it is their experience and not ours that matters.