More than half of primary schools are holding non-competitive sports days that fail to announce ‘winners’, according to a new survey.
They host events where individual children are not singled out to compete but instead work in teams and are recognised simply for taking part.
The findings have been revealed in a poll by Families Online which warns that youngsters must learn that ‘losing is completely ok’.
Fifty-seven per cent of parents surveyed said their children’s infant and primary schools hold sports days with a ‘non-competitive theme’.
"Fifty-three per cent of parents said they were ‘comfortable’ with their child losing, believing that it wasn’t ‘a bad thing’ because it helps build resilience and confidence.
82 per cent wanted ‘old school’ competitive sports days back on the basis that children must realise ‘you can’t always win at everything in life and sometimes you have to lose’.
Seventy-six per cent did not approve of ‘non-competitive’ events, with parents believing that ‘healthy competition helped children individually to strive to improve and challenge themselves’.
Four in ten (43 per cent) said losing was an important life skill.
In contrast, 14 per cent were in favour of a non-competitive sports day, insisting it should be an ‘inclusive event where everyone wins for taking part’.
There was also a concern that children who weren’t naturally good at sports would be singled out for losing.
A further 18 per cent said sports days shouldn’t be about individual competition.This is because ‘too many children will be made to feel inadequate if they don’t win at something and may feel excluded if they are not naturally sporty’, the research found.
Families Online polled almost 300 parents with children aged four to 11.
Faye Mingo, director of marketing at Families Online, which connects parents with activities across the UK, said: ‘Sports day is always a contentious one; as parents we are proud of our children and we want to encourage them and cheer them on at the finish line.
‘But perhaps in our bid to protect and shield them from the disappointment of losing we have in fact removed the traditional competitive spirit of sports days?
‘People take part in the Olympics and there are winners and there are losers, this is normal stuff and our children are strong enough to cope with that.
‘There is of course nothing wrong with developing team spirit via group activities, but the results from this survey show that as parents we believe we should be helping our children to deal with disappointment and to understand that losing is completely ok.’
It emerged in June that some schools are now holding two events – one competitive and one non-competitive – to keep all parents and pupils happy.In June 2014, Ofsted’s former chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, warned that state sector headteachers should stop treating competitive sport as an ‘optional extra’.
He argued in a report, commissioned after the 2012 Olympics, that too many top athletes were from private schools.Fewer than one in ten pupils in England attend fee-paying schools but privately educated athletes made up the majority of players in rugby union’s English Premiership and more than a third in top-level cricket, the Ofsted document revealed.