“If the question is whether you should compete, then the answer is yes. If the question is when, the answer is now. NOTHING will take your training to the next level the way training for a competition will.”

Competition makes EVERYTHING better. Period. The simple act of someone trying to do a job better than another person leads to dramatic increases in work productivity. It drives performance in business, causes students to “compete” in education for awards and scholarships, instigates guys to fight over the most attractive women, has given us the Super Bowl, and has led to the $1 double cheeseburger – all great things.

Our history has been painted with the importance of competition. There was a day when our lives depended on it. We competed with other men for the best women. We competed to kill food to provide for our family. We competed to be predator and not prey.

Competition is what our country was founded on. Capitalism, democracy, an entire government, built upon the shoulders of competition. It has contributed greatly to the United States being the most powerful nation in the world. Consider also, ironically, that in the few places where competition was allowed to thrive in the Soviet Republic, it succeeded. Communism and Socialism are founded on a non-competitive world view. It is the antithesis of Democracy. And while a society, government, and economy built upon a lack of competition failed, the two places where competition was encouraged – the space program and the Olympics – succeeded incredibly well for the USSR.

We now live in a country where everyone has a sense of entitlement, part of which is learned though the “everyone is a winner” mentality. We no longer keep scores in elementary-level sports, and every kid on the team gets a trophy and a ribbon. We actually had the mom of a 3rd grade kid who participated in our “field day” last spring call up the superintendent of our school, infuriated because her son did not receive a ribbon when she saw that only 1st through 3rd place students were awarded ribbons in their various events. Anti-competitive viewpoints such as this, coupled with the pussification of America, is leading us down a dangerous and emasculating path.

Lack of competition is the single biggest problem with our public school system. There are no incentives for one school district to be better than the next district down the road, no incentives for teachers to be excellent, and no incentives for the students to compete and perform. As a middle school Industrial Technology teacher, I became frustrated a few years ago with the quality of the balsa wood bridge projects my students were building. The simple act of changing the project to a competition – where the bridge that held the most weight got the highest grade in the class and a small gift certificate to a restaurant in town, and the one who held the least got the worst the grade – dramatically improved the design, quality, and craftsmanship of the bridges all-around. Competition gave the project a purpose.

– Matt Reynolds

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