13th August 2012

In the following, published in the Courier Mail, I argue that like in education we should ban competition and winners and losers in the Olympics.

Given events over the first week of the Olympics, it’s clear that many are unhappy with how winners and losers are chosen and the system of awarding medals.  In some cases, like Australia’s James Magnussen who failed to win gold by 0.01 of a second, the argument is that if the results are so close then both first and second deserve gold.

One only needs to see the emotional distress and loss suffered by those who fail to win gold, such as Stephanie Rice, to realise the irreparable emotional and psychological damage caused by an unhealthy focus on coming first.

Add the suspicion that some contestants are taking enhancing performing drugs and there’s no doubt that the modern Olympics no longer embodies the ancient ideals on which the games should be based.

There are 204 countries involved in the London Olympics and the reality is that only a relatively few will win medals, with some having no chance of ever winning gold. Imposing an elitist, phalluscentric and hierarchical system of defining success relegates most countries to the dustbin of Olympic games history.

The Olympic games also reinforce social inequalities associated with Western style capitalism.  Illustrated by debates about the social composition of Team Great Britain, where 50% of medals in Beijing 2008 where won by athletes educated in private schools (even though they only represent 7% of the population), it’s clear that the way athletes are chosen reflects Britain’s class-based system.

What’s to be done?  Sociology academic at the University of All Shall be Winners, Professor Leveller, argues “Not all sportspeople have the same level of ability, motivation or genetic makeup.  So it is wrong to have winners and losers as not everyone has the same chance of success”.

Professor Leveller continues, “Sporting authorities should take the lead from educational reforms in the English speaking world that have radically redefined the work of schools”.

Success in schools is no longer measured solely by competitive, high-risk examinations.  In Australia, for example, teachers no longer rank students A to E, where E means fail, or from 1 to 10 as failing students is bad for their self-esteem.

Marking with red pens is forbidden and failure is replaced by descriptions like ‘deferred success’, ‘consolidating’ and ‘not yet achieved’.  In sports grounds, it’s also the case that scores are not recorded in games like soccer on the basis that all must feel valued by experiencing success.

In a draft briefing paper commissioned by those countries that have never won a gold medal, and undertaken by the No Winners in Sport Foundation, details are provided explaining what future Olympics might look like.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will no longer be available on the basis that all involved deserve to be valued.  Instead, a certificate of participation printed on recyclable, eco-friendly paper will be awarded to all participants.

Quotas will be implemented to ensure that merit and ability are no longer considered, instead victim-groups will be given priority to ensure a correct balance in terms of gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality.

The rules determining how games are played will also be radically redefined to ensure a less stressful and more celebratory ethos.  In the long jump, for example, a line will be set in the pit impossible for any jumper to reach.

Gradually the line will be moved closer to the jump point to ensure, eventually, that all contestants can experience success and a sense of mutual friendship.  Similar to horseracing, those contestants that outperform others in sporting trials will be handicapped to ensure they no longer have an advantage.

Initial responses to the No Winners in Sport draft paper are mixed.  Representatives from Australia’s elite sporting organisations argue that competition forces contestants to strive to do their best and teaches valuable traits like endurance, concentration and the need for disciplined training.

Those committed to a more new-age, holistic and socially just view of sport, on the other hand, drawing on the Gonski review of school funding, argue that like in education, all must be winners, social background should not determine success and there must be equity in sport.



Archived News

> Curriculum review endorsed
> School discipline
> National curriculum review announced
> It's ability not SES
> SES not the issue
> Return phonics to the classroom
> Alan Jones interview - school funding
> Gonski a threat to non-government schools
> Greens Party policy a danger
> Gillard's education plan empty rhetoric
> Education failing boys
> PM's Press Club Speech
> Gonski review cultural-left
> Gonski review cultural-left
> UK primary curriculum back to basics
> Ban competition in sport
> Gonski a danger to non-government schools
> Gonski a danger to Catholic and independent schools
> Gonski a danger to Catholic and independent schools
> Gonski report penalises non-government schools
> Don't attack non-government school students
> Responses to OECD report miss the mark
> Choice and diversity in education benefits all
> Greens Party intent on destroying non-government schools
> Government schools elitist and discriminatory
> The left has lost the culture wars
> National testing for mums and dads
> Gillard's educrats attack non-government schools
> Fairfax Press biased against non-government schools
> ALP's multicultural policy contradictory and flawed
> Failed education revolution
> School funding review
> A real education revolution - what does it take?
> PISA test and Australia - what does it mean?
> MySchool website used to attack non-government schools
> Greens Party to cut funding to non-government schools
> Old school is best
> Coalition best for education
> Greens Party to destroy non-government schools
> Gillard's school autonomy proposal all spin
> Gillard My School tests flawed
> Gillard My School tests flawed
> Liberals introduce school vouchers
> Non-government schools deserve funding
> Muslim curriculum biased
> Gillard still a closet socialist
> NAPLAN tests flawed
> Draft national curriculum dumbed down and PC
> ALP education revolution fails
> Yesterday, the ABC..
> Australia's national curriculum debate
> Australia has high social mobility
> British schools shadow minister likes Dumbing Down
> US academic critical of high stakes tests
> University entry must be based on merit
> Quadrant has just released a..
> Hi, much of the Rudd/Gillard..
> Hi, the Spectator has a brilliant..
> ABC radio's Counterpoint has an..
> In case you missed it..
> Rudd's education revolution denies school autonomy
> Donnelly book launch
> Rudd's education revolution 3 out of 10
> US experts say no to value-add

Sign in and have your say


Latest Blog

1st January 1970

Read Full Post!


$20.00 plus $6 postage
(within Australia).

Latest News

13th August 2012
In the following, published in the Courier Mail, I argue that like in education we should ban competition and winners and losers in the Olympics.Given events over the first week of the Olympics, i...

Read entire article...

Sign up to our Newsletter...