The need to win
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - November 15, 2019 - 12:00am

The most basic human instinct is to survive and survival dates back to 2.5 million years ago. Survival is synonymous to winning and as the cliché often goes, everybody loves a winner, and to add, we all like to win. Yet winning is not limited only to sports but also to life, in general.

Winning in a competition gives us feelings of pleasure. Dopamine, a chemical in our brain, is released during pleasurable situations, gives us a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment and in athletic events, it gives us bragging rights and the aura of invincibility.

Then, we learn from our victories and it helps us to plan and strategize for the next challenge. Because we like competition, our interest grows, we get more involved and adrenaline rises. The tighter the competition, the more we want to prevail.

Likewise, there is a tendency for us to argue with one another to get our messages across or to understand things better. Often, we disagree with others to bring them to our way of thinking. In other words, we argue to win. Some of us have the strong desire to compete. There is a craving for challenge and are driven by that primal instinct to win. Competition makes us work harder, perform better.

Researchers say when you support a winning team, it is “basking in reflective glory”, like supporting the Azkals or the Gilas, even if they’re not on the victorious side of late. We feel and enjoy the thrill of victory even though the only thing we had done is cheer ourselves hoarse. But if our team fails to win, we tend to distance ourselves from them. Hello, Golden State, unsa’y gibati sa inyong mga fans who used to be, never mind. And talking about failing to win, something’s really wrong with the twice-to-beat, star-studded UP Maroons.

Another study revealed that athletes finishing third in competitions are more happier than second placers. They are happy simply because they made a podium finish. Second placers have more of the what-ifs and could-haves on their minds because of the missed chance of topping the event.  Getting the silver medal is just not enough.

For some, because of the strong desire to succeed, it’s win-at-all cost, especially if the preparation is wanting and there’s a strong pressure to win. The tendency to cheat and break rules is too tempting to pass. It becomes an obsession and of course, there will be aggression.  The spirit of sportsmanship disappears that people tend to avoid them. Researchers call this hyper-competitive attitude (HCA) and these people are not trusting, have big egos and are only concerned with their own feelings and interests, disregarding the feelings of others.

In inter-school athletic competitions, especially in the lower grades, obtrusive and often arrogant parents are a big problem for coaches and tournament directors. Just go to age group tournaments and there will always be a few on the sidelines aside from the coaches yelling their own instrucions, often overlapping team officials. They think they’re doing the right thing but they’re actually stunting their child’s athletic development.

One study showed that children who were told to do their best and find new ways to do specific activities were more motivated than children who were instructed to do things better than other kids.

According to social scientists, it is a good idea to bring children to cooperate with each other in setting goals as compared to competing against each other. Doing things together makes them feel better about themselves and boost their self-confidence, thus lessening the compulsion to win a contest.

Not worrying too much about winning takes off the pressure in us. Of course, winning makes us feel good but cooperation helps us to communicate better, be more trusting and tolerant of people who are different.

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