This chart reviews the major markings of competition and decompetition. Each element of competition arises from viewing the contest as an opportunity for partnership. Each element of decompetition arises from viewing the contest as a symbolic version of war.
Finding fun, excitement, interest, pleasure, and satisfaction-all forms of intrinsic motivation-in the process of contesting will help guard against decompetition. But what evokes and sustains intrinsic motivation?
True Competition: A Guide to Pursuing Excellence in Sport and Society offers a blueprint for maximizing the potential of competition to foster excellence and enjoyment. It provides a novel perspective on competition that challenges traditional beliefs through a research-backed defense that—up until now—has been lacking. With this text, readers will learn the differences between positive and negative competition, and they will discover how to implement change in their organizations, teams, and individual practices.
The authors of this groundbreaking book, who are leading experts in sport psychology, redefine what competition is and should be. Unlike the more typical and often socially destructive form of competition—which they call decompetition—true competition brings out excellence in participants, fosters positive character development, and leads to lasting enjoyment. This socially and psychologically positive perspective on competition challenges Alfie Kohn’s No Contest: The Case Against Competition, which has been called the definitive critique of competition. The authors propose that competition itself is not problematic; rather, they question how competition is sometimes envisioned, interpreted, and implemented. They provide suggestions for achieving positive outcomes from competition, including creating challenging yet supportive environments in sport programs and teams, fostering the well-being of athletes, and encouraging athletes to handle various situations.
The research-based text uses a field-guide approach, in which the components of true competition are presented in chapter 3 and then detailed in the following chapters. This approach helps readers understand competition and how it is being used in their own lives. While the book relies heavily on the arena of sports, it also provides many examples of applying this revised understanding of competition in business, education, politics, and other nonsport environments.
To enhance the learning experience, True Competition offers the following features:
A scholarly analysis of competition is presented in a clear and engaging writing style, making the provocative concepts easily accessible to any reader.
Engaging sidebars give examples of how true competition has been created in various environments to shorten the implementation curve for readers.
Q&A sidebars pose practical questions to ponder—just as a parent, coach, or official would—and prepares readers for issues they will confront in the field.
By applying the information presented in this text, students, professionals, and athletes will learn how to maximize the benefits of competition by avoiding decompetition. Not only will they understand how to recognize and respond to positive and negative forms of competition, but they also will gain the tools they need in order to promote true competition in their own worlds.
Foreword by Senator Bill Bradley Prelude. Compass for the Journey
Chapter 1. The Case Against Competition: Was Kohn Right?
Groundbreaking Anticompetition Research
Kohn’s Case Against Competition
Chapter 2. Naming the Imposter: Unmasking Decompetition
The Power of Metaphors
Why Metaphors Matter
Competition and Cooperation
Chapter 3. True Competition: A Field Guide
Playing and Winning
The Ideal Contest
Interlude. Character and Competition
Chapter 4. Motivation: Pathways to Enjoyment
Two Types of Motivation
The 3 Cs of Intrinsic Movitation
Finding Enjoyment in True Competition
The Threat of Rewards
Importance of Democratic Leadership
Chapter 5. Goals: Pathways to Excellence
Two Views of Success
Decompetition in D Minor
The Ultimate Goal of True Competition
Excellence and Character
The Threat of Insecurity
Leading for Excellence
Chapter 6. Opponents: Allies and Adversaries
Structure of Competition
Challenge of the Decompetitive Opponent
Leadership: Cultivating Allies, not Adversaries
Chapter 7. Regulation: Upholding the Spirit of the Game
Decompetition and Rules
Players vs. Officials
The Role of Perceived Injustice
Leading for Responsibility
Chapter 8. Playing and Winning: The Pursuit of Victory
Playing to Win
Values of the Game
Winning and Losing
Pressures and Loyalties
Leaders as Culture Creators
Chapter 9. The Ideal Contest: Embracing the Challenge
The Art of Competition
Threats to Balanced Competition
Guiding Youth Into Competition
Postlude. Reclaiming Competition
A supplemental text for sport sociology courses. A professional reference for sport psychologists, sociologists, and philosophers; coaches, athletes, athletic administrators; and sport managers.
David Light Shields, PhD, is an affiliate associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was codirector of the Mendelson Center for Sport, Character, and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. In that role, he conducted research, designed educational programs, engaged in community outreach, built coalitions, and sponsored conferences and symposia. He also worked as a consultant with coaches, athletes, school administrators, and league officials to foster a better understanding of the relationship between competition and character. He coauthored the book Character Development and Physical Activity in 1995. Shields is founder and executive director of TrueCompetition.org, a nonprofit research and education organization focused on understanding and promoting true competition.
Dr. Shields is a member of the Moral Education Association. In 2007, he was named Sport Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport in conjunction with National Sportsmanship Day.
Brenda Light Bredemeier, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and a certified sport psychology consultant. Along with her husband, David, she was codirector of the Mendelson Center for Sport, Character, and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. She coauthored the book Character Development and Physical Activity in 1995. She was a founding board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, a consultant for the NCAA, editorial board member of several professional journals, and an academy member of AAKPE. In 2007, she was named Sport Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport in conjunction with National Sportsmanship Day.
Dr. Bredemeier was the McCoy Lecturer for the AAPHERD Research Consortium. With her husband, she has authored more than 50 books, articles, and book chapters.
“True Competition is a very insightful book that can guide the positive pursuit of excellence at all ages and stages of life. It is a great contribution to the performance enhancement field and to humanity.”
Terry Orlick, PhD
“Brilliant! True Competition has once and for all destroyed the popular notion that nice guys (or girls) finish last. In this insightful and practical book, the authors demonstrate how ethics propel excellence. It belongs on every coach's bookshelf. More importantly, it belongs in their hearts and minds.”
Vivian Stringer Rutgers University Women's Basketball Coach