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[Susan notes: Bingo!

Most people seemed to miss the point that Bill Crain makes--too much adult interference in children's games in the first place.]

Published in New York Times
09/29/2013

To the editor

Ashley Merryman criticizes ("Losing Is Good for You" (Op-Ed, Sept. 25) sports for children that hand out trophies and prizes to all participants. But should we accept so much adult-structured competition in the first place?

Before the prevalence of Little League, youth soccer and other organized sports, children frequently played their own informal games, choosing sides, creating ground rules and settling disputes themselves. Winning and losing were transitory, and there were no trophies at all. These informal games were valuable social experiences in which children often developed ideas of fair play.

Today's adult-directed, competitive sports also encroach on noncompetitive outdoor activities such as exploring green spaces and engaging in make-believe dramas. In such play, children develop feelings for nature and creativity.

I hope we can find ways to encourage more informal games and noncompetitive play.

The writer is a professor of psychology at City College, CUNY.

William Crain


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