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Prodigy
(@prodigy)
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Why do we compete?  What is to be gained through competition?

Competition is to teach and to learn.  Through competition we push to new boundaries.  Whether we are racing cars or swimming or playing football, the aim is to use the game or event to determine who is doing the right things more consistently, or in some cases, innovating.

Someone who views a competition objectively, would not choose one team to win over another.  This objective viewer would see two teams or individuals engaged in the game and would bare witness to the good, the bad and the in-between on both sides.  They would appreciate the game and the competition without emotion or loyalty and simply appreciate the opportunity to view the game.

A subjective viewer chooses a winner in advance due to some loyalty or like.  Maybe you root for the New England Patriots because you're from New England or maybe your wife or girlfriend supports them because Tom Brady is cute and he plays for New England...oh wait, now you're cheering for Tampa Bay!  When we select a team or individual to win an event, we are relating with that team or player and emotion has been introduced into our affinity for one team / player or participant over another.

Suppose you're watching two race car drivers racing for the world championship.  Imagine one is driving a car you think is cool, while the other is driving a car you do not think is cool.  Who do you cheer for?  Suppose you thought both cars were cool, who are you cheering for now?
Maybe the cars are identical except for the color, maybe you'll choose the color you like more.

What if you knew both of the drivers of the car...and one of them was a really nice guy while the other guy is kind of an abrasive butthole.  Who are you cheering for at that point?  Probably the nice guy right?  What if they are both "nice guys"?  Suppose both of them are stand-up guys but one of them was recently involved in a major crash while racing against his own wife and she was seriously hurt and spent months in the hospital recovering...does this change who you cheer for at all?  Why or why not?

You may decide the guy who overcame the most deserves to win.  It makes a terrific Cinderella story and we love to celebrate people who encounter adversity and overcome it...

However you choose your favorite, you're wrong.  You should always want the best to win and the best will win.  The purpose of competition is to learn and to teach.  We do not compete in a given sport or event to decide who overcame the most off of the field or who is the nicest person.  The purpose of competition is to improve.  Cars get faster and faster.  Football players get bigger and faster.  Coaches develop better ways of thinking or new ways of doing things.  When a coach pulls something out of his hat that nobody expected or thought about, that elevates the entire game because it opens up new possibilities. 

We compete to learn and to teach.  The loser(s) should learn what they could have done better and work to dethrone the winner.

Most of us, do not appreciate the process for what it is...not usually.  We care about the race car drivers or football players or coaches.  We should however; have more appreciation for the process, the advancement and the growth.  Why?

Because advancement, no matter how silly the advancement or improvement is in the grand scheme of life...the advancement and sharing of the experience and process is through LOVE.

 

I hope someone finds this useful.

 

 

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Great post.  Certainly something to ponder.  I have always been competitive (who knows why?) from a young age.  But I just wasn't "normally" competitive, like my other male classmates.  I was thinking about "how" to win long before (and after) the game.  When I fell into coaching, I was shocked and frustrated at the attitudes, approaches and incompetencies of those who'd been given the responsibility to teach.  They were completely inadequate and seemed to only be successful at making kids miserable.  Since that time, I've vowed not to be "one of those guys."  I wanted my players to be able to look back on their time with me and think of it as a fulfilling learning experience.  The result (wins?) should never be something that you chase, as it is only the result of the quality of your work.  As is the experience that is had by those in your charge.  Unfortunately, most don't want to admit that, or they fail to understand how their influence can/should be used for the greater good. Of any sport, business or endeavor that I've ever been involved in, football is populated by the most insecure, immature collection of "adults" I've seen in any one place.  Perhaps it's a microcosm of the world around us, but they seem to want to congregate in this sport.  That's unfortunate because it teaches their players to behave the same.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @prodigy

Why do we compete?  What is to be gained through competition?

Competition is to

 [lotsa highfalutin' stuff]

Nah.  Because it's fun.


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Prodigy
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Posted by: @coachdp

 I wanted my players to be able to look back on their time with me and think of it as a fulfilling learning experience.  The result (wins?) should never be something that you chase, as it is only the result of the quality of your work.

It's important to note that the quality of your work is truly relative.  What may yield an undefeated season and championship this season, may end up being "middle-of-the-pack" next season.

In the ideal setting, a team comprised of 30 players might be ranked 1-30.  The #30 guy should be trying to become the 29 guy.  The #2 guy should be trying to become the #1 guy.  The #1 guy should be doing everything possible to stay in the #1 spot and the guys behind him should be learning from him, trying to "out-work" him.

This fictional 30-player "Championship Team" should be collectively working to stay #1, while the #2 team in the league should be doing everything they can to dethrone them.

This is how we use games and competition to improve.

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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gumby_in_co
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I don't consider myself as "competitive" by nature. I don't hate to lose. I'd rather win, but I think when I lose, I do a good job of keeping it in perspective. If it becomes important to me, I take steps to avoid losing in the future.

I am only involved in 2 competitive environments:

Roller Hockey - I play in the Adult, 30+ Co-Ed, Copper division. This is the lowest common denominator that you could call "hockey" with a straight face. There's an unwritten rule that good players don't take the puck from beginners. I play for fun, win or lose. Occasionally, I get frustrated and vocal when I think I or my team as a whole is under-performing, but I could really care less if I win or lose. If I were competitive, I'd start training my body and move up about 3 divisions.

Coaching football - I want to win because I want my kids to experience that. However, I'd rather lose a close game to a team that traditionally beats the pants off of us than to win vs a crap team. We won the D2 championship last season. While I'm thrilled for my players, this is not a significant accomplishment for me. It means we were 9th out of 16 teams. We had a very tough schedule and our results put is in the bottom 8 for seeding. A goal for next season is to take down at least 1 top 5 team. That would be a tremendous accomplishment.

I like to use the competition to measure the effectiveness of our efforts. Mainly, I don't ever want to be the reason that we lost. I tried my very best to keep my ego out of my coaching last year. I was mostly successful. There was one coach who took his kid to start his own team. I really want to beat him in the worst way. We ended up beating him twice. I let my ego drive my decisions in the 1st game and it affected my coaching negatively (like I knew it would). The second time, not so much. Mahonz tried to get me fired up about playing Troy, but it was far more important for our team to compete and earn his team's respect than to win that game. We definitely accomplished that in the first half. Next time, we do our best to do it for the entire game. It used to be important to me to prove I'm a better coach than the next guy, but not anymore. Now it's important to me that I do my best for my players. I know I'm better than most of my opponents based on:

1) my ethics

2) my objectives (players' welfare vs winning games)

3) the amount of work I put in (knowledge is a product of that effort)

I believe Mike Currier who practices on the same field as me is every bit as good as me. I believe Troy is better than both of us. I believe almost every other coach in our division is crap. Sorry, not sorry. I no longer feel the need to prove that I'm better than anyone. I just need to prove that I'm doing my very best and I think my very best is pretty good.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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J. Potter (seabass)
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I LOVE to compete...I always have. Almost everything I engage in get's exponentially more fun, for me, the more competitive it is. I also gravitate toward other's that are competitive. I find it difficult to relate to people who aren't competitive. 

I get bored VERY quickly when the outcome of an activity is irrelevant. As I have aged my perspective on competition has changed and I have found ways to enjoy certain activities that aren't intrinsically competitive. 

I don't loathe losing like some...avoiding a loss is not what drives me...the joy of winning is more motivating than the fear of losing. I am also addicted to progress and competition drives progress.


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @seabass

I get bored VERY quickly when the outcome of an activity is irrelevant.

Doesn't everybody?  The only places I can think of where such activities are undertaken are those whose major occupation is keeping people busy or out of trouble: school, prison...anything else?  OK, also make-work programs where the object is to make it appear people are being paid for being productive, when the object is really just for them to get money and make them think they're useful.  Some other situations in which the person in question, by virtue of mental disability, is useless.


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J. Potter (seabass)
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@bob-goodman 

I guess relevance is a matter of opinion.

I can't think of anything where the outcome is more irrelevant than a video game...yet they are played by 10's of millions of people as if they matter.


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IMMIRU
(@immiru)
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Best said by this gentleman

"For Youth, as it crosses the threshold into manhood, football has become a rallying point to build courage when courage seems to die, to restore faith when there seems little cause for faith, to create hope as hope becomes forlorn."  
 
                                                               – General Douglas MacArthur
 

 

Why Compete?  It is necessary.


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Prodigy
(@prodigy)
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Topic starter  
Posted by: @coachdp

The result (wins?) should never be something that you chase, as it is only the result of the quality of your work

--Dave

I suppose it's a matter of perspective and I'd like to explore it a little for anyone who cares to read this thread and take something away from the discussion.

The realization that I had and posted about, really boils down to the chief benefit of competing is the advancement of the pursuit.  

Suppose you like driving fast in a straight line for 1/8 or 1/4 mile.  You could go into your garage and tinker on your car, go out to a track and "compete" against yourself.  Last week your car ran 14.38, after some changes this week your car runs 14.85...next week your car runs 13.99
In the course of this "competition" with yourself you are learning and advancing.  If you go about this intelligently and meticulously, you're going to have a good understanding of why your car went from 14.38 to 14.85 and hopefully you're going to address this and perform better.

I have a challenging time digesting the idea that you should not chase a win.  You should absolutely, positively seek to improve.  The guy who is competing against himself, is not happy when his car runs slower after spending 20 hours working on it and $1000.  He did not invest that money into the car to go slower.  He's absolutely "chasing a win" in this situation, even if he is not directly competing against someone else, the "win" is a faster time.  YET, there's also other "wins" or "benefits" to be had.  When the car goes from 14.38 to 14.85, taking the time to learn what went wrong and what can be done better is education.  It's learning, it's evolving, it's improvement: even when the results are not what was desired or expected.

Introduce another "player" into the game.  I could race against you and beat you while at the same time having a slower time than I expected for my car.  Is that really a "win"?

You could win a ball game but your team could perform worse than in a game they lost.

Ultimately, the "game" or "competition" is a means of "testing" the work that was done.  The purpose of the test is to advance the pursuit.  It's to push the "game" and all of the components of the "game" (the players, the equipment, the car, the suspension, the motors, the coaches) to new levels.  

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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IMMIRU
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I think if you define the lexicon the conversation could yield defensible results.  The application of the lexicon in this case is applied to youth football since that's where we are now.  Competition is the "what".  You asked why do we compete and you stated that it was to "learn and teach" Humans as part of the animal kingdom are operating on the 4Fs. Fight, Feed, Flee, and Fornicate.  If you do those better than others in your system, then you have a better chance to survive.  Learning and teaching can be viewed as vehicles to survive.  A person is taught so they can potentially do better in competition to ensure the survival of "X".
 
Looking at some of the context of the board, it may be worth looking not at the "what" but the how (as you suggested) with constraints and restraints of youth football as a vehicle with social impact. So, let's discuss sucess vs winning.  Absent of any type of causal discussion winning is the end state that humans want to achieve based on the 4 F's.  Success may or may not incorporate winning and therefore is not synonymous.  So maybe the discussion is how do we win and have success. (ex... a HFC shows up and has an undefeated season but 3 years later the program is struggling to field enough players to have the level of previous success.  Did the HFC win?  Yes.  Was he successful?  It depends.  Maybe the previous teams were athletic but many players had poor academics so the fewer players are a result of having defined success as X% GPA team average with increases the chances of a better life ie. survival.)
 
As coaches we all or should all define success for a program to all the stakeholders.  We do it in the short term with postings like: we will have 0 turnovers or we will average 4 yards on first down."  This is the "how" behind the "what" (competition) that influences the outcome of a contest.  So, can you be successful and not win? It depends on how you define success?  We have youth sports where no score is kept and there isn't a declared winner or loser for the event but to your point teaching and learning can take place.  If that is something that the leadership defines as success then there is success in the absence of winning.
 
Different levels of success at different time intervals:  The last example was based on short term goals.  Maybe a game or a practice or a skill. (ex...You work with a group of tacklers and get X% in that session to remove their head from the contact however you have a few athletes that just are not good physical tacklers and constantly finish at the bottom in your drill assessments but have great form.)  They are not winning at their assessment but couldn't the fact that they learned a technique be success? It depends on what the leadership establishes as success and how they get there.
 
What about how you define success for a medium goal such as a season.  We all likely have been in a contest as a coach and said man if we can get out of here with all our teeth in our head then it will be a good day.  Maybe success is X% of the criteria over time.  We define success as having the top end-of-year rushing attack in our division with a minimum average of 160 team yards on the ground per game BECAUSE statistically ... .  Coaches establish those benchmarks in an effort to be more competitive.  You get there through player, coach, and environment interaction.  Removing the social construct as to the matter of "how" can now be played out in an easier to see negative manner where perhaps the social environment discourages effort or participation.
 
So now we are at long term success.  We compete to survive, right?  Being the best enhances our survival rate but because we are social animals, the how has major implications.  The HFC is hired, the team wins,  The coach goes about developing his team in a social consideration void and a few years later the program is in shambles. The HFC does not consider football as a vehicle to anything other than football (self licking ice cream cone)but rather in a totalitarian manner that eliminants those that could with teaching from those that already can. (ex... a HFC shows up and has an undefeated season but 3 years later the program is struggling to field enough players to continue the program.  Without addressing the "how" of competing we as social beings may decide that it is not in my interest to continue, or at a higher order, my activity does not relate to "success" therefore I will move on to a different activity.  This is a portion of what we have all experienced with declining numbers in programs.  We see some numbers coming back as a result of "how" we football.
 
We compete to survive.  We compete in football as an extrinsic incentive demonstration of lessons learned to be applied OR because there is a trophy.  In the later we see a struggle for long term success where the program may not survive because social consideration of teaching more than X's and O's is largely abandoned by that salt tablet issuing, Oklahoma drilling submit or quit coach that has defined success as only winning in a Machiavellian world.   Yes process matters and that is why I posted the General Douglas MacArthur quote because football specifically and youth sports generally can train youth how to survive as they encounter life if we equally care about the process and not only the win.

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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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@immiru 

You lost me at lexicon. You guys are far too intelligent to be football coaches. Big wurds and deep thoughts are scary. 😎

 

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Posted by: @mahonz

You lost me at lexicon. You guys are far too intelligent to be football coaches. Big wurds and deep thoughts are scary. 😎

Pttttp!  I went to Lexicon 2021.  What a waste of time.  A lot of guys walking around dressed up like Lex Luthor.  Boring.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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