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Do you think children feel under pressure to cheat at sport? Your views please!

(30 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-Apr-13 10:02:45


We're fascinated by this news story today, suggesting that two-thirds of UK children feel under pressure to cheat at sports because of a "win-at-all-costs" culture.

Also, according to a survey commissioned for the MCC and the Cricket Foundation, as many as one in 20 of the children questioned said they'd be proud to have arrived at victory dishonestly.

Is this something you've noticed? Do your children think it's OK to trip, foul, dive, deliberately mis-score etc etc, all in the name of winning? And/or do they feel under pressure to cheat in this way when they're playing competitive sport?

Please do tell!

BanjoPlayingTiger Mon 15-Apr-13 11:04:32

Hmm, when my kids were in wchool a couple of years ago. My ds at his reception sports day was just walking along through his races, when asked why he wasn't running to win he said there was no point as they would all get a medal anyway.

So I'm not sure there is a 'win at all costs' culture. If anything I'd say things were much the opposite.

ohforfoxsake Mon 15-Apr-13 11:10:57

IME it largely depends on the coach. I don't think my football/rugby/cricket playing children would be comfortable taking a dishonest victory, and that is because their coaches teach them to play well and enjoy their sports. Being a good sportsman - not just in their game but in their attitude of being gracious in victory or defeat - is at the heart of it.

Saying that, I see many other teams - and it's most obvious in football - where there is quite a nasty 'win at all costs' ethos. It brings out quite an unpleasant streak in parents, both as volunteer coaches (they get the victories) and on the sidelines. I think this is the heart of the problem. Yes, I blame the parents.

MrSlant Mon 15-Apr-13 11:29:52

Absolutely not! It was a truly sad day in this house when the Lance Armstrong scandal finally broke and we had to explain to them what he and some of their actual heroes had done to win at cycling. We follow Team Sky partially for their very robust 'get to the top and get there cleanly' attitude. In their football and rugby teams and also their cycling club there is very much an ethos of enjoying sport for what it is and that only idiots dope or cheat. I think, I hope, we are going to see a new era, particularly in cycling, where this becomes the new attitude.

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 15-Apr-13 11:42:47

Poppycock. Schools spent last 30yrs handing out phony medals to every person in the school just for watching a sports day. It's more prevalent of kids I know to expect to get something regardless of effort shown.

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 15-Apr-13 11:48:43

Actually thinking about it, one exception could be football. Kids I know in life used to take great pride in winning at all costs but again recently parents involved have said its harder to motivate kids than before. A medal or trophy isn't always seen as worth it?!

TeaMakesItAllPossible Mon 15-Apr-13 11:56:06

I've not noticed this with my 3 oldest DS, who play a range of sports in school, as well as part of local grass root clubs and elite programmes.

My DH and I still play club team sports, and coach youth teams, and we tend to talk about sport in the context of enjoyment, learning new skills and improving our own performance. I hope it helps put sport into perspective for our DSs but also the children we support.

I have noticed there are a number of factors that influence individual children: parents on the touch line who shout about scoring or shout at their kids if they make a mistake; some kids have a natural desire to win at the expense of someone else, the elite programmes where it is an individual child versus another individual child where ther is only one winner and the stakes are high for progression on further.

But I've yet to see a child actively 'cheat' to ensure the win. I've seen some terrible fouls and mistakes but I've always assumed human error.

Perhaps it is the sports we're largely involved in: rugby, hockey, swimming and cricket. Perhaps we haven't got to the right age group. Or perhaps I'm naive.

Interesting stuff though.

iseenodust Mon 15-Apr-13 12:33:42

DS's school is very clear about being a good sport and not cheating. The same with DS's sports' coaches and us as parents. I think it's a phase all kids go through that has to be educated out of them. eg. think of the child who whoops miscounts his go to avoid the snake in snakes & ladders.

DS plays tennis and the kids score for themselves from about age 8. IMO this is too early. Some genuinely can't keep track of the score leaving themselves open to a less honest opponent. Some make questionable calls over whether a ball was in/out, made worse by the fact the sometimes temporary lines aren't easy to see. And some parents collude with their DC over this hmm.

So I'm with ohforfox and blame the parents...and football.

spectacular Mon 15-Apr-13 13:16:30

My DD plays sport at county, regional and National level and ime the main issue is with the coaches.

The problem is more marked at school and lower level tournaments where the coaches often umpire their own games. The amount of biased umpiring I have witnessed in this situation over the years has been awful. I mean way beyond subtle cheating. In one match where the teams were drawn, the umpire was given the usual 20 secs to time call by the time keeper and as it was her team's centre allowed the game to overrun by at least 2 mins until her team scored and 'won'! This kind of behaviour sets the culture for the players/children. Part of the problem may be that many schools use coaches for specific sports that have been very high performers in that sport themselves and winning is really, really important to them. You only need to listen to how some of these coaches conduct themselves on court to see how vested they are in victory!

One highly regarded, independent local girls' school was well known on the circuit for having a very difficult coach, who had a win at all cost mentality. None of the local schools will now play against this school. When some of the parents complained about the behaviour of the coach, their children were demoted to the 'B' team! The girls from this school know the girls from my DD's school well because they play in the same club and they are highly embarrassed by their coaches attitude. So for some of the girls at least, it is not rubbing off too much.

TheOneWithTheHair Mon 15-Apr-13 13:30:42

I don't know of this first hand as my ds1 and dd were never into team sports. I am a little sceptical that it goes on in primary school teams but may be being stupid.

NotTreadingGrapes Mon 15-Apr-13 13:49:41

Certain types of people will always try and cheat.

I suppose that goes for children as well.

But no, utter garbage I'd say, generally speaking.

mercibucket Mon 15-Apr-13 14:04:10

depends on the coach. i see horrendous blatant cheating by refs when reffing their own teams matches but the worst i heard was a 9 year old being congratulated by the coach for deliberately fouling an opposition player so he had to be taken off.
i am quite happy for emphasis on winning, and sport can be a bit dirty. its very english to think its the taking part that counts, but i draw the line at blatant cheating, as do my kids teams. we cheer the goals and wins though, unlike some parents who watch in silence.

mercibucket Mon 15-Apr-13 14:05:41

also, the fact yhat 95 percent of children would not be proud to win by cheating says a lot

choccyp1g Mon 15-Apr-13 14:18:21

DS used to play tennis and gave up partly due to the cheating that went on when the children were scoring themselves. The coach would leave them to play rallies, then ask them how many points they got. Some kids would always wait to see what their opponent said then add on one or two points. Then they'd get "moved up" to get extra coaching! So it was in their interests to lie, and I suspect some parents told them to do it.

ivykaty44 Mon 15-Apr-13 15:32:01

Sport to a lot of teenage girls just isn't important bbc article so where did they get the idea that teens are bothered whether they win at sport - sorry the figures just dont' add up

some people cheat, some people play by the rules

I have managed to keep my dd's interested in sport and activity, even dd1 who is now 20 has returned to sport.

Instead of knocking our future generation it would be far better to encourage them to take part in sport and enjoy it for what it is

Madamecastafiore Mon 15-Apr-13 16:45:04

No. Just asked DS and he said cheaters never win. I asked him what he meant and he said if you cheat you don't really win because you haven't played fair so the other person could have been better than you and won if you hadn't cheated.

Blackqueen Mon 15-Apr-13 17:07:31

Just as the last poster said - the saying in our secondary school PE dept is "winners never cheat and cheats never win"

prettybird Mon 15-Apr-13 17:10:26

A lot of it is down to the coaches and the parents

Our rugby club has just spent a year working towards its Positive Coaching Scotland Accreditation (in association with the Bill McLaren Foundation). it's all about ensuring that everyone involved has the right attitude - and that includes players, coaches, parents (and even supporters) - it is the playing, camaraderie and doing your best that counts, with the winning a bonus - but one that at the kids' level is particularly un important.

As Linda Lawson (Bill McLaren's daughter) said when she presented us the award: she has two sons, one of whom plays international rugby and the other just plays for fun. She is equally proud of both of them.

Ds (12) is horrified at the idea of cheating and gets really frustrated even at gamesmanship. As he quite rightly says - in the long run, the only person you are cheating is yourself. If you (and your team) haven't won fairly, you haven't actually won at all.

quoteunquote Mon 15-Apr-13 18:45:42

I've just been speaking to one of mine about this, as she is watch something about it on TV,

all of mine compete at a high level in several sports, the two youngest are junior champion title holders in more than one sport,

DD said she has noticed in school situations some attempt it, she thinks it pointless, as it only a win if she got it fair and square,

you don't really get cheating at club level as you would lose your place, and your team would be disgraced, well we have never seen any in any events we attend.

mine never mind if they don't take the gold, they are always great sports towards others, with DS you can't tell if he lost or won from his reaction, DD usually just identifies immediately what she should of done,

mine do a lot of sport which is more about personal challenges and achievements which probably helps as they are concentrating on personal best rather than how they compare to others.

other than handball and the summer sports day there is no competitive sport in my children's primary school, which is sad really as they then miss out learning about being team players, and a good sport.

ivykaty44 Mon 15-Apr-13 18:53:54

i have jut asked mine and she pulled a face and said - why cheat you only cheat yourself

I like the idea of positive attitude,I found that triathlon for dc was trying hard to have a positive attitude and when the first competiture got out the pool at a lot of events they got cheered by all the parents for effort. Another thing about triathlon rules is you can be disqualified if your parents or any one with you shout in any type of negative way, so you don't stand on the side lines to much and hear parents ranting at their dc to do better. Harsh but it stops the style of football mums and dads ranting on the side lines

TeaMakesItAllPossible Mon 15-Apr-13 18:54:37

Actually, I have seen very biased refereeing by some coaches so, I would say, yes they can create an unhealthy environment for the children too.

I love all these nice comments coming back about children enjoying and taking place in sport. Sport is brilliant smile

prettybird Mon 15-Apr-13 19:40:41

Meant to add that the kids' fixtures secretary for at ds' rugby club has an unofficial "blacklist" of clubs whose coaches take "winning" too seriously and won't arrange fixtures against them.

timidviper Mon 15-Apr-13 19:59:20

I'm not sure that children feel under pressure to cheat but agree they see very poor role models in adults like premiership footballers who dive, etc and coaches who manipulate as mentioned by others.

Some time ago, when DS was young, a school rugby match was halted by a father who was a doctor involved with the local rugby club. He walked onto the pitch and ordered the teacher to stop play as he was so concerned the poor refereeing was going to lead to a neck injury. The ref was a sports teacher so the issue was not ignorance, it was just desperation to win.

DwellsUndertheSink Mon 15-Apr-13 20:58:02

Ds plays rugby. DH is one of his coaches. They have tried, through the last 7 years, to bring the lads on in terms of skills, fair play, understanding the rules etc.

Some other coaches have been teaching their kids to perform illegal moves - eg handoffs in U12s, high tackles and general thuggish behaviour.

We've also had a case, before contact and when teams could be co-ed, of young "ladies" being taught to grab young men by the balls. shock It happened far too often to be accidental!

There have also been cases where the coaches will berate and verbally abuse referees in front of the kids in order to get their own way on a decision.

So much of this is down to the coaches obsessive need to win in order to boost their own egos.

The really big, top of the league clubs do not approve - when fixtures are drawn up, the badly coached teams end up playing eachother, perpetuating the cycle, whereas the well behaved lads get much better games from really good clubs because they know how to play fair.

Macdog Mon 15-Apr-13 21:28:14

Dd (7) is a gymnast.
The coaches at her club teach them that win or lose, it's not important as long as they have tried their best.
At a recent competition a young gymnast was in tears after feeling she hadn't done well, but still applauded and cheered the gymnasts that beat her.

Children need to learn to lose as well as win.

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