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.
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.