But when I think of how competitive my family gets, Easter 2013 comes to mind. My parents decided to organize an Easter Egg hunt for the first time since I was a kid. I guess they thought it would be nice to give their two kids in college some spending money, but only if they worked for it by competing with a 12-year-old to find plastic eggs in the backyard. And my 12 year old brother, Jack, was pretty intense about the whole thing, running frantically around the yard and at one point he attempted to slide tackle me to steal eggs I had already found. In the end, despite finding the most eggs, Jack had the least amount of money. My parents had put varying amounts in the eggs. Most only had loose change, several had dollar bills or $1 coins, and only 3 of the eggs had five dollars in them. My older brother Alex‒who found the fewest eggs‒had the most money since he found two of the fives. My parents have not done another Easter Egg Hunt since.
I do enjoy my family’s competitive nature, I think it’s fun. However, I also think that sometimes we get too concerned about winning, especially since it’s just our family playing for fun. In all areas of life, like work, school, and sports, people develop a healthy amount of competition with our peers. Everyone wants to be the best which inspires each other to work harder but we need to look at the overall success of the group too. Researchers have yet to reach consensus on whether competition is good or bad for us. Being on a team helps teach us cooperation in addition to competition. In an article on the Psychology Today Blog, John Tauer presents research comparing cooperative and competitive activities:
“Both competition and cooperation can provide unique benefits to individuals (and that each may have some drawbacks when experienced alone)… this combination of cooperation and competition provides the best of both worlds to participants, and helps explain why team sports are so popular around the world. Competition is pervasive in our culture, and can be a double-edged sword. Part of the reason team sports are so appealing in our culture is that they provide individuals the opportunity to compete and cooperate at the same time.”
Basically, he found in his research that competition and cooperation together produced both the best results and the most enjoyment by the participants. Competing but still working as a team will produce the best results in players.My family isn’t going to fall apart because Jack lost some money to Alex and me or because Alex beat us all at Joe Name It. But in other settings, like on sports teams, too much competition could be detrimental. Improving your own performance is a large part of your success as a teammate but so is being a good teammate. It shouldn’t just be about being the best individual but being a part of the best team, like when we won a trivia night competition at a local restaurant together as a family. Teams should be about working together and being the best cohesive unit in addition to the best individuals around.
Hey, what about you? Tell us in the comments!
Do your friends and/or family get too competitive when you play games? Are games good team building activities or not? Do you think you focus too much on being the best person on your team or being the best team?