Causal Argument – l8tersk8ter

Competitive Teamwork Boosts Self-Esteem

Requiring teens to participate in activities where they could potentially come out as losers will help boost their self-esteem. This is because competitive events among all ages, but especially among adolescents, have no real losers. If these adolescents are forced to be on a competitive team, both losing, winning, and just being on a team in general will provide them with social and life experiences that will lead them to thrive. If you have ever participated in a competition and lost there are no doubt negative feelings that arise, but the reaction to those feelings is what becomes important to the mental state of an individual. Adolescents would ultimately benefit both socially and just overall in life skills if they were required to participate in competition with a team of any kind.

In an analysis of adolescent extracurricular activity, Andrew M. Guest and Nick McRee state that around 75% of youths in grades 7 through 12 already participate in at least one extracurricular activity during the school year. This is a large percentage of adolescents that are already on board to be involved, and likely are involved because they enjoy the activities and all that they gain from them. While these activities may not all be of competitive nature these kids are still willing to be involved and will be easier adjusted to competition based extracurriculars. This means only 25% of adolescents in this age range would be joining a competitive team from currently not be involved with school activities at all, which is a pretty low percentage that could possibly oppose.

The most obvious opposition to making adolescents participate in any sort of competition is that the inevitable failures that will ensue will be harmful. However, these failures are the exact reason competition is beneficial to the teenage mind. The Canadian Journal published a Do Youth Learn Life Skills Through Their Involvement In High School Sport? A Case Study. This study followed a boys high school soccer team, players and coaches, through their academics and athletics to see if their sport participation benefited them in their day to day life. The head coach in this study valued the philosophy of developing personal relationships with the players. He found it important to teach them that even when one cannot change a situation, they can change their attitude about the situation. It is this concept that turns failure into success. While the game or match or whatever was taking place may go in the books as a loss, the lessons learned from the failure are positive outcomes in the midst of disappointment. Learning how to find the positives in that situation is a valuable lesson about not dwelling in defeat. Very few people make it through life without experiencing a setback or some type of adversity. When this happens there is always the option to give up and succumb to the failure. If these adolescents are taught through competition how to cope properly and move forward from disappointment then in the future, they will be more likely to keep pushing towards success. Another important lesson from failure is how to improve oneself. If you lose the scholastic competition because you got a few too many questions wrong you will study a little harder before the next one. If you lose the soccer game because you missed a few too many shots then you’ll practice even harder so it doesn’t happen again. Failure drives hard work and effort to improve and avoid failing again.

According to another case study by Pedersen and Seidman, Team Sports Achievement and Self-Esteem Development Among Urban Adolescent Girls, when the teen girls got involved in sports their self-evaluations increased to a more positive nature. The case study focused on adolescent girls involvement with team sports and they had the girls take assessments that measured their personal view of themselves overall. It was hypothesized and proven that the self-perception of success in a team sport can be connected to the global self-esteem of adolescent girls. Their results were a constant finding across various races and ethnicities. It was also evaluated in the context of those with low socioeconomic status. The most important part of their findings is that it’s the self-perceived success that pushes their self-esteem in the right direction. This doesn’t always mean success in the competitive match. There are various ways to find micro successes through team participation and competing. They can set personal goals, such as reaching a certain level of a fitness test, and if this is achieved, they will feel good about themselves. They could answer more questions right during academic club than they did last time, and even if they still get some wrong, they are happy with the success they were able to achieve. Everyone has different measures of success and our goals for ourselves are constantly changing and be met and remolded in a cyclic process. The positive sport self-evaluation led to an increase in general positive self-esteem. There are many other areas to find success that encourage a positive self-image. Positive reinforcement can nurse good feelings about ones participation. Getting into the game and making a play or helping out a team gives a feeling of worth and usefulness. This contribution to the team makes someone feel good about themselves when they know they are helping their team out. Simple pride in ones actions can positively influence the way someone feels about themselves.

In the study A School-Level Analysis of Adolescent Extracurricular Activity, Delinquency, and Depression: The Importance of Situational Context the authors Guest and McRee point out the potential for all the possible benefits of competitive teamwork to disappear if the activities are not properly constructed. While there are benefits in both the good and bad situations, there is still opportunity for negative to take over. This is avoided mainly by the proper guidance of coaches, club leaders and even parents or other family members. They need to be encouraging and willing to teach the life lessons that are available. Constant tearing down of players by the adults around them will harm them mentally instead of help. This can be combatted by aiming focus towards positive youth development. If activities are carefully constructed and supervised, they can maximize the positive outcomes.

References

Guest, Andrew M., and Nick McRee. “A School-Level Analysis of Adolescent Extracurricular Activity, Delinquency, and Depression: The Importance of Situational Context.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 38, no. 1, 2008, pp. 51–62., doi:10.1007/s10964-008-9279-6.

Holt, Nicholas L., et al. “Do Youth Learn Life Skills through Their Involvement in High School Sport? A Case Study.” Canadian Journal of Education, vol. 31, no. 2, May 2008, pp. 281–304. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=508035517&site=ehost-live.

Pedersen, Sara, and Edward Seidman. “Team Sports Achievement and Self-Esteem Development Among Urban Adolescent Girls.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 4, 2004, pp. 412–422., doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00158.x.

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12 Responses to Causal Argument – l8tersk8ter

  1. l8tersk8ter says:

    Feedback Please: I feel like this is the meat of making my argument should that be the case? Are there enough arguments made in favor or are my points lacking, should I give more reasoning? Does the information flow? Any general improvements?

  2. davidbdale says:

    I like to use first paragraphs as a way to model style changes if asked. I’m not sure you asked, but if you re-read your opening, I think you’ll see you’ve confounded the meaning of lose/losing/loser by giving it several definitions in your first few sentences. Elsewhere, I’ve preached the value of naming your ideas. This might be a good opportunity.

    Here you call teens LOSERS: Requiring teens to participate in activities where they could potentially come out as losers will help boost their self-esteem.
    Then you deny that they’re REAL losers: This is because competitive events among all ages, but especially among adolescents, have no real losers.
    Then you allow that they sometimes win, sometimes lose: If these adolescents are forced to be on a competitive team, both losing, winning, and just being on a team in general will provide them with social and life experiences that will lead them to thrive.
    Then you double down on the emotional impact of losses: If you have ever participated in a competition and lost there are no doubt negative feelings that arise,
    Then you offer the consolation that the loss is what we make of it: but the reaction to those feelings is what becomes important to the mental state of an individual.
    Then you propose that we force them to experience loss to build character: Adolescents would ultimately benefit both socially and just overall in life skills if they were required to participate in competition with a team of any kind.

    I get the idea. Generous readers will grant your point. But you could make everybody more comfortable with the concept by distinguishing between LOSS and SETBACK. Losses can be devastating, but at the adolescent competitive level, they’re best described as setbacks. Nobody wants to learn from being a LOSER. But everyone wants to prove her resilience by bouncing back from a setback.

    I’ll come back later for more substantive reflections on your overall argument, as you requested. Meanwhile, do you see the value of establishing the vocabulary that frames your argument most clearly?

    • l8tersk8ter says:

      I totally get what you’re saying, thank you. I’m working on improving it but I am ready for more.

      • l8tersk8ter says:

        Also just to clarify, should I post improvements to the first draft of the paper I’m not using in my Portfolio? Or just have the revisions in the overall Research Paper?

  3. davidbdale says:

    Put this back in Feedback Please when you’re ready for more.

  4. davidbdale says:

    Your argument is clear that since 75% of your subject group already compete, only 1 in 4 is at all likely to resist being compelled to compete, but you say so in a way that’s almost impossible to follow:

    This means only 25% of adolescents in this age range would be joining a competitive team from currently not be involved with school activities at all, which is a pretty low percentage that could possibly oppose.

    Streamline that claim and, maybe, move it to the top of your paragraph or hint that it’s coming so you don’t post the “Scenic Views” sign AFTER we’ve passed them.

  5. davidbdale says:

    Your “most obvious reason” paragraph is actually two paragraphs, almost three. Find the natural breaks where you begin to develop a new main idea and break for a new paragraph.

    There are less-than-compelling arguments here, L8ter.
    1. Sure, it’s possible, with the right coach, to learn to find value in adversity, but you can’t promise that experience for everyone you force into competition.
    2. Even if you do deliver an overall positive experience, that doesn’t give you the authority to force it on anyone. You’ll have to find that authority somewhere else.
    3. Finally, while we like to think the student who misses too many questions or the soccer player who misses too many shots on goal will try harder next time, it’s equally possible she’ll just feel like a failure and give up. (It’s ALSO possible she actually doesn’t have the academic or athletic talent to ever get the answers or score regardless of effort; do you want to be responsible for putting her through endless rounds of failure?)

    I don’t make these observations to discourage you. You can argue better. But you should be aware what your readers are thinking as they read your essay.

  6. davidbdale says:

    Your Pedersen and Seidman paragraph is, again, at least two paragraphs. It’s largely the same argument as the previous argument and (while I found it easier to agree with), it again seems to depend on EITHER girls who already had a sense of how to find success in small improvements OR careful guidance from a clever coach who helped them nurture that sense. I don’t see how those conditions could be universal. Since you don’t quote the studies directly, we feel a bit at your mercy as the interpreter of the findings. Are they as rosy as you portray them?

  7. davidbdale says:

    I’m glad to see in Guest and McRee that you’re acknowledging the problem I’ve been anticipating. Other readers will be reassured as well that you recognize the danger of forcing teens into mismanaged programs run by bullies who think it’s their job to coerce or shame their youthful charges into better performance. I don’t think it’s very effective where you’ve placed this nod to your opposition. It undercuts your big claim without time to rebuild it. You might consider slipping it in between your two positive sources, or even before both of them, so you can get past it and finish strong.

  8. davidbdale says:

    Your sources are articles, not books, L8ter. As such, they should be punctuated with quotation marks, not italics. It’s not always necessary to name the entire title either, since you’ve provided it in the References section. Here’s two ways to handle one of them.
    1. In their study, “A School-Level Analysis of Adolescent Extracurricular Activity, Delinquency, and Depression: The Importance of Situational Context,” authors Guest and McRee point out the potential for all the possible benefits . . . .
    2. In their study of extracurricular activity, delinquency, and depression, authors Guest and McRee point out the potential for all the possible benefits . . . .

  9. davidbdale says:

    Finally, in your References section, please link your titles to the sources as I have done for the Pedersen and Seidman article. Thank you.

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