Organized sports, particularly for school-age kids, present a real challenge. The results are easily measured and are on just one axis. Points scored. Winning vs. losing.
If we teach a child to identify with the outcomes in this way, we might create arrogance. If you win, after all, you must be better than the others.
This is where the big man on campus comes from, the push for dominance and the brittle self-worth that can lead to bullying.
And of course, it’s not just sports, and it’s not just high school.
But in any scarcity-driven competition, sooner or later, you’re not going to win. You’re not going be state champ, national champ, world champ… Sooner or later, if you’re honest, you’ll need to acknowledge that winning isn’t going to happen.
And then what happens?
Economic utility almost always occurs when we’re good at things that aren’t easy to measure. And when the things we’re good at are additive, infinite and generous it can be something we embrace for the long haul. Because in those areas, it’s possible to be useful and skilled and make a contribution, every single time.
If you have a chance to play a game that’s based on scarcity and winner-take-all, perhaps it pays to play a different game instead.