We should be praising both England and Germany for the Euros – competition only divides us

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<p>This obsession with competitiveness is inculcated into children from an early age</p>

This obsession with competitiveness is inculcated into children from an early age

It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that when an English team wins a game of football it should be a cause of national celebration.

Well, I’m all in favour of young people being encouraged to do sport, and of girls being treated the same as boys. But it used to be said that what mattered was not whether you won or lost but how you played the game. The women’s football game on Sunday was played well – by both teams. The winning goal was scored in extra time; it could or should have been a draw. But no, there has to be a winner. Is it not possible for the participants and observers to enjoy the beauty of the activity, without sullying it by partisanship? Actors, musicians and dancers can demonstrate their skill without needing to defeat each other – why must athletes be different?

It may seem rather a stretch to link sporting competition with society’s greater ills, but the underlying mindset can have dangerous ramifications. This obsession with competitiveness is inculcated into children from an early age. I would suggest that it is unhealthy for the individual and for society.

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