Competition has always been an integral part of human nature. From the early centuries when humans had to compete for resources like food and shelter, individuals that are best able to compete within their environmental niche are the ones to survive.
Competition is inevitable – the challenge is being able to thrive from it.
According to Sigmund Freud, humans are born seeking attention. In order to achieve attention, they’re forced to compete for it. Winning and succeeding in that goal results in a sense of self-fulfillment.
Although all humans are born with competition in their genes, some display a more competitive personality.
Competitiveness can also be learned. Depending on the environment that an individual has been raised in, lifestyle factors can affect competitive traits.
With both genetic and environmental factors affecting an individual’s competitive nature, how does playing sports from a young age add into the mix?
Playing competitive sports provides athletes with the ability to:
- Set goals
- Follow rules
- Cope with stress and nerves
- Win and lose
- Be committed
- Take risks
All of these traits add up to a competitive athlete. Being competitive is extremely important in sports, academics, and the work force.
Michael Jordan, one of the most passionate, driven and competitive athletes of all-time believes that he has, “missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Athletics teach players to persevere. Like Michael Jordan, everyone fails, it’s just a matter of how you react to failure.
Women’s National Soccer Team player, Hope Solo, was kicked off the team and lost two loved ones in the span of one year. She then went on to win the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. She says it’s a matter of channeling your anger and finding your inner strength.
Without athletics, neither of these athletes would be the people they are today. Both have learned to overcome diversity and succeed in difficult situations because they’re so competitive.
Competitiveness is innate and can be enhanced by athletics, but are there benefits to having a competitive nature?
After playing youth sports some athletes may go on to compete at the collegiate or professional level. However, once an athlete retires, they typically have to venture out in the corporate world – an arena where competitive drive can serve them as an asset once again.
Athletes will have a winning mindset and always strive to improve themselves. They’re conditioned to work well in teams, have self-confidence, and maintain a heightened awareness of their competition.
The lessons learned through sports are transferrable to various aspects of life. The best time to adopt these competition-driven traits is at a young age – making youth sports an invaluable activity when training for a child’s future.
Being competitive is natural but not universally equal. Sports seem to enhance healthy competitiveness and that can lead to success on and off the field.
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