Competition vs. cooperation

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    Jun 27, 2007 11:52 PM GMT
    I was just wondering what everyone here thinks about competitive sports? Personally, I think you can have too much competition. Okay, I know this may be a slightly controversial view around here, seeing as it is easily possible that most people here like competitive activities, but sometimes I think they just drive a wedge between people and make you feel inferior and worthless if you lose.

    Take me and my boyfriend. We often compete against each other in fencing, pool, bowling, and video games. We do it as a form of special male bonding and as partners. Abit of competition can be good for us but sometimes I end up taking it too seriously and I get mad when I lose and we have massive arguments. On the over hand, I like doing cooperative stuff with my bf like rock climbing (where one person has to hold the rope/belaying whilst the other one does the climbing) and hiking together and camping (we may be going on a camping trip in September/unless that evil curse I mentioned in the other thread kills me first). And I prefer the more cooperative activities. I think they're a great way of bonding which brings people together rather than divides them. Too much competition can be harmful. My bf also competes in fencing at the national level, and he always faces against guys who take fencing too seriously. Some of them have even pushed into my boyfriend at competitions and pick on him just because he beat them. Som eof my bf's competitors have massive egos as well; which make them hard to deal with. Whereas when people are rock climbing and mountaineering, the story is different. People seem to enjoy working together to achieve a common goal; which I really like.

    Robert Owen, an English philosoper, once considered competition to be harmful to the human sprit. I happen to agree with him to a certain degree. I think a bit of healthy competition can be fun; but when people take it too seriously and get too cocky with the competition, the fun just disappears IMHO.

    So what do you guys think about competitive activities and cooperative activities? Can some people take competition too seriously?
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    Jun 28, 2007 12:41 AM GMT
    I've thought for a long time that there was something a bit regressive and unhealthy about competitive sports. Or at least about "spectator sports."

    But there's nothing that some people can't make a competition out of, including rock climbing and mountaineering. They've got made-for-tv championships and everything.

    I was recently talking with an old teacher of mine, and he said he was really scared about the obsessiveness in high school activities these days. Not like when we were kids and did a little of everything for fun. (Well, we had to - if EVERYONE didn't go out for football, there weren't enough guys for a team.) Now, (says my friend) the kids are all focused on particular activities to the point where they damage themselves and others to get ahead of the competition.
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    Jun 28, 2007 12:51 AM GMT
    People definitely can take competition too seriously. There are people I've stopped playing with in the past because I felt they were too intense for what the rest of us were aiming for, as well as groups I've dropped out of because I didn't want to be as intense as many of the rest of them. And there was even one instance where I put together a subgroup from a large pool of us who played a game just for fun, where the subgroup was just the people with a higher skill level (though without attitude problems) to play in a more highly competitive division. But it depends a lot on the person how that goes, as well as the setting.

    Personally, I'm more likely to get frustrated in a team game than I am on my own. If I'm the weakest member of the team, I feel like I'm bringing everyone else down; if there's someone weaker than me, I know that if we lose a close match I'll end up thinking "If only that player hadn't done that..." That's why for team games I greatly prefer playing pick-up games, preferably with a group which mixes up who plays on which team between games if the score is at all uneven.

    More individualistic sports--whether they're technically as part of a team or not, we all know that things like tennis and swimming are inherently less of team sports than are things like soccer and basketball--are less likely to cause me to get annoyed at anyone other than myself. I'll play tennis with the full intention of winning if I can do so without cheating, even if it means that I have to hit my opponent square in the chest with a critical shot, but I won't get mad at a friend who beats me at it. Just because I play to win doesn't mean I can't have fun losing, or that I have to resent people who are better than me.
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    Jun 28, 2007 1:49 AM GMT
    There's a reason good sportsmanship is so important in competitive sport. It's the balance to the competitive part.

    I LOVE competitive sports. My bf and I used to row together. I thought it would be all hot locker room sex and gold medals but when neither appeared, competition pressure built on top of relationship pressure and we split.

    The next year we had to compete for seats in boats. Let me assure you, I worked extremely hard and made a point of kicking his ass. :)

    But like I said the other side of the coin is good sportsmanship. It's important to smile, and congratulate the other guy on his performance. Even if he didn't win, he did his best and it's important to acknowledge that. I would rather be a good sport about losing then a bad sport about winning.

    I think the problem isn't the competition, it's the lack of good sportsmanship in some sports, and the acknowledgement that in the end, it's only a game.
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    Jun 28, 2007 2:49 AM GMT
    I love the Jet Li movie "Fearless," even though it's a sometimes-cheesy martial arts action movie; one quote in it that really stuck with me was when the Japanese guy, Tanaka, asks him before their fight why he competes, Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li) says just that competition is a way for us to test ourselves and learn about our weaknesses.

    A friend of mine pointed out that in most martial arts, sparring is simply necessary because you can't reproduce the actions without a live partner responding. Beyond that, I agree with scullboy -- sportsmanship, to me, is the acknowledgment among everyone that winning, while fun, is not the significance of the event, and that someone who loses and learns a ton from the experience really succeeded more than someone who won and learned nothing.

    At the Urban Assault race this past weekend, which was a totally fluffy "race" -- they deliberately didn't give out enough info for the teams to really optimize like you would for a hardcore race -- they had obstacle courses that were symmetric, like this big inflatable one in front of the Bicycle Sport Shop, so you and your teammate ran through opposing (symmetric) sides at the same time. My teammate and I totally sprinted through it because we wanted to be first... but at the same time, it's the obstacle course equivalent of a moon bounce, so it's hard not to have a sense of humor about the whole thing.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 29, 2007 12:47 AM GMT
    I'm not big on team spectator sports...sitting in front of a TV or in a stadium is boring
    ...but I like individualistic sports
    running tennis biking...
    as long as I'm in the event :)
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    Jun 30, 2007 3:33 PM GMT
    Well for one theory on this we can turn to Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (a far more important work than his Wealth of Nations). In it he states that we seek to be praised. We desire the adoration and attention of others; however, we also seek to be praiseworthy.

    Competition is an important way to become praiseworthy in the eyes of those around us. Competitive sport allows people to stand out, especially when they do very well. Winning brings praise both to the team and to the individual.

    Of course, it runs the other way as well. The loser may have scorn heaped upon them in the worst case, but may simply be left out of the praise. Smith would contend that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as that lack of praise causes people to work harder to achieve praise, thus improving themselves. Of course, it could just cause them to be despondent, especially if bad sportsmanship comes into the game or if they lose consistently.
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    Jul 04, 2007 3:21 AM GMT
    I have watched some the UFC fights on Spike TV and got sucked into the hypermasculinity. Nearly naked men fighting and wrestling intensely... Absurdly competitve some might say, however...

    There were some fights where once the victor was determined by points or submission the loser received a big hug from the winner. Some of those hugs were a few seconds too long to be just an act... These guys are tough and skilled at fighting, and the majority are very good to each other after the fighting and outside the ring. And before you might think they are block-headed goons, over half have college degrees.

    I find it all a homoerotic study on men in intimate combat; and often I am impressed by their skill, speed, class and good sportsmanship. Too bad the fighting circuit likes to push the envelop on bad behaviour and trash talk for ratings...