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Old 06-03-2006, 08:30 AM
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Default Competition—the Struggle for Excellence or Victory?

“America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser….Americans play to win. That's why America has never lost a war, for the very thought of losing is hateful to an American.” (General Patton). America is a society obsessed with competition. Some would even claim that “competition is an inescapable fact of life…we indeed have a competitive ‘code’ in our chromosomes” (Ruben, ) (note that no evidence was, or has been provided for this genetic “code”).

Through the medium of sports, we have seen athletes attain amazing feats. Such feats have lead many to suggest that competition “brings the best out of us.”

Athletes commonly note that competition motivates and inspires them, such as when Ronnie Coleman goes head to head against Jay Cutler. For example, writer James Michener states that (1976):

I am always on the side of healthy competition. I love it. I seek it out. I prosper under its lash. I have always lived in a fiercely competitive world and have never shied away. I live in such a world now and I would find life quite dull without the challenge.

Since competition is so prevelent in America, it would be useful to analyze the efficacy of competition.

So I have a couple of questions for you guys to ponder, and respond to.


1. Is competition "human nature" in other words, is it inhate to humans, and inevitable to avoid? Or is a social construct, that is learned?
2. Is competition optimal for performance--at school, at work, and at play--or are there better alternatives?
3. A common argument from proponents of competition is that it is the only effective way to motivate people, maximize performance, and have fun. Do you guys have any alternative methods to competition?
4. Performance contingent rewards are given for performance. For instance, for beating someone in a contest, MVP rewards, All Star Selections, etc. Do you see any possible problems with these rewards? Or are they great, and we should continue to use them?

I look forward to hearing your guys opinions.

There are hundreds of studies on each topic I listed. So a quick search on the internet, may prove insightful. Opinions from experience and observation are welcome, as well.
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