Tre Sirriss trains hard under coach Mick Daly.
Tre Sirriss trains hard under coach Mick Daly. Tom Huntley

Are our kids too soft? Report says sport too competitive

CHILDREN are being driven away from sport because it is too competitive, according to a report from the Australian Sports Commission.

The report, which was released on Wednesday, said children were leaving sports clubs if they felt like they weren't having enough fun.

"Coaches should focus on skill development and individual improvement, rather than winning as the outcome," the report said.

Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy agreed with the report's findings and said children needed to be brought up on the fun aspect of sport, not the competition.

"This research tells us that older kids often see sports clubs as competitive and over-focused on performance," Ms Lundy said.

"These things are taking the fun out of sports participation for some kids."

The report went on the say that "early sports specialisation is not recommended for young children".

But there are some who did not agree with the report's findings.

Many professional athletes have spoken out about the report, saying that balance is needed but taking away competitiveness is not the answer.

Coaches and athletes such as Lawrie Lawrence, Liz Ellis and Australian soccer captain Melissa Barbieri have offered differing opinions.

"In sport now, it's often trophies for everyone and no focus on winning. They don't even count scores in some of the junior AFL leagues," Ms Barbieri said.

"I learnt most from losing, about being humble, not being a sore loser and shaking everyone's hands at the end of the day."

There's a benefit for kids in learning to lose, coach says

MICK Daly has trained boxers for years, and led fighters to Australian titles and even higher honours.

He says there is nothing better then being competitive but extremely respectful of opponents.

The latest findings released in the Australian Sports Commission's report shocked the Gladstone boxing coach.

"I understand not having finals in younger ages for team sports, but by 12-years-old the kids want to have a winner and need to learn to win," Daly said.

The trainer is not all about win at all costs. He said there was a benefit of learning to lose while wanting to do your best.

You don't train to lose. You need to develop that winning edge and you can't do that without having results

He also said that this mentality and sportsmanship began in young kids, and as they matured they became humble and respectful.

"For some of the young guys, after the decision is made a minute later they are running around happy, win or lose," he said.

"You don't train to lose. You need to develop that winning edge and you can't do that without having results," Daly said.

A prodigy of Daly, 11-year-old Tre 'Shonk' Sirris, trains three times a week and is always ready to test himself against another young opponent.

Daly said that learning the feeling of winning and the sportsmanship of losing were key to Shonk's development.

Is sport too competitive for young children?

This poll ended on 27 July 2013.

Current Results

Yes. There seems to be a 'win at all costs' mentality these days

15%

No. It's good for kids to learn to lose gracefully

15%

No. Sport teaches kids that everything doesn't come on a platter

52%

Yes. There should be a balance between fun and winning

15%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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