Monday, 16 September 2013

The measure of success?

Things are a little out of kilter when coming second is seen as failure. We saw it at the Olympics last year, when Silver or Bronze medals were greeted with disappointment by some people.

It happened again, yesterday in Hyde Park when Johnathan Brownlee was beaten into second place in the World Triathlon Championships.

Spain's Javier Gomez won his third ITU World Triathlon title as he beat Britain's Jonathan Brownlee in a sprint finish at the Grand Final in London.
Brownlee was overtaken on the home straight by Gomez, who finished one second ahead of the 2012 champion.
"I gave it everything but there was nothing I could do. It was tough.
Johnathan's brother Alistair told BBC Sport that his brother was a "complete tactical numpty" for not waiting until closer to the line before attempting to outsprint Gomez.
Jonathan, who won a bronze medal at London 2012, set off with 250m remaining but was overhauled by 30-year-old Gomez just before the finish.
"Alistair wanted me to use my brain and to think about it. I did use my head as much as I could," said Jonathan, who admitted losing by such a narrow margin was "quite hard to take".
I understand that competitiveness is a good thing, especially at the Elite level. But what sort of message does this send to would-be amateur athletes? If winning is all-important, why bother starting any sort of healthy activity?
This attitude is also prevalent in the world of eduction. The annual 'league tables' laud those pupils who score A or A*. Anything less is seen as not good enough. Some of my friends recall this attitude from their own childhood when a parent would respond "Why weren't you first?" when told that the child had achieved 'second place' in something at school. I'm not suggesting that all competition is bad, far from it, competition spurs us on to improve our performance. 

This advert for washing powder sums up my feelings of how not to encourage children (listen to the final line from Dad). Belittling anyone's efforts merely undermines whatever confidence they may have, to a child, it can add to their low self-esteem.