International College Hong Kong
May 24, 2017

It’s not just about the winning

Raymond Chan is Head of PE and Activities at ICHK

Recently, as you may know, ICHK took part in a schools touch rugby tournament.  One of the girls jokingly pointed out that since we organised the event we could invite only teams that we would beat and therefore win the trophy. The humour in her comment is found in the fact that, of course, we know that sport is about so much more than simply winning. But what, exactly, might that "so much more" amount to?

Most sports teachers recognise the value of the process when it comes to sport.  Sport is about challenge. Striving to develop, practising and working to improve skills are important attitudes to instill in our students.  The commitment to regular practice and the development of attitudes of resilience and perseverance are key factors to success in life, not just the sports field.

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in life Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. Pierre de Coubertin - Founder of the Olympic Games

Recently, I overheard one of our year 10 girls, Evita, reminding some of her classmates that being in a team representing the school provides meaning to their lives.  Meaning in this case is defined as “being a part of something which is greater than oneself”, which the year 10s learn as part of a unit on PERMA. This is an acronym Martin Seligman refers to in his book, “Flourish”.  The main thrust of Seligman’s argument is that in order for humans to thrive and lead happy, fulfilling lives one needs:

Positive Emotion


Positive Relationships




Aside from the satisfaction of hearing a student apply what they have learnt in our classrooms, this conversation served to remind me of the role which sport plays in contributing to a thriving student.  Positive emotions such as joy, hope, interest and passion are stoked. Students are engaged throughout taking an interest not only in their own performances but those of others too.  The relationships that are forged within a team context endure as they experience the highs and lows of victory and defeat together.  A sense of achievement can come not only through winning a game, but through mastering a particular skill and this only comes about if there is sufficient challenge.


So sport provides the stage for students to be the best that they can be not just to be better than the other team.  That’s why it’s not just about the winning.


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