Appropriate Degree of Competition

Thesaurus. plus. Adequate Synonyms [Digital Image]. Retrieved from

Competition widely exists in modern society. The relatively developed part of the world represented by the United States are largely driven by commercial competition. This competition had impacts beyond commerce but to different aspects of the society as whole, notably education. Nelson et al. examined competition based on historical philosophies from the perspectives of arts and sports. Competition brought the world many art, educational and athletic achievements. Nevertheless, excessive competition leads to the deviation of outcomes. Thus, adequate competition leads to the maximization of achievements.

Nelson et al. pointed out the creation of arts takes competition; meanwhile it is beyond competition. The maximization of outcomes in arts needs to find a point where competition is adequate. The authors quoted the statements from well-known historical figures as normative structure. Nietzsche was well-known nineteenth century philosopher, while Vasari was a famous painter from Renaissance. On one hand, Nietzsche said art creation was excitement driven, such as love and events. On the other hand, the famous painter Vasari believed the highest level of arts was beyond competition. To sum up, the competition level in arts should not go extreme, neither excessive competition nor no competition. Take modern painting competition for example, the winners of the painting competition are proven to acquire advanced painting skills. However, few of them become masters with paintings lasting from generation to generation. Only painters with strong inspirations from life events, such as love, are able to produce long-lasting artwork. Competition from real life provides ground for art creation, while pure competition limits the depth of artwork.

Nelson et al. believed that ranking based education makes the outcome of education deviate from original purpose. Students would apply more tactics in order to become the winner in competition rather than settling down for deep thinking. Linda Hutcheon also criticized the wolfish education. Hutcheon used the same word “agony,” as Nelson et al. Hutcheon used “agony” as a rhetorical move to give the idea that competition leads to violence even in academia. Agony is a representative of extreme competition. When Hutcheon used it in academic competition, she was implying the academia was extremely competitive which she opposed against. Nelson et al. further explained that rank based education makes academia too wolfish and that ruins students’ curiosity. As a result, criteria based education can generate adequate competition more than rank based education does.

Nelson et al. also brought up tennis to give an example of pure competition. The goal of tennis is to win rather than bringing up friendship according to tennis rule. Under the set rule, tennis player would have the fastest way to build up skills. As discussed on the previous class, sport players tend to use drugs to improve their performance. Compared with the drug usage in sports for the winning purpose, the regular match has an adequate level of competition. @kostaxinos6906 had brought up the drug usage issue in the post Competition in Sports and the PED Debate. From my perspective, the usage is breaking the boundary of adequate competition whose aim is to motivate the physical competency of human. In addition, sports are also a motivation for a healthy lifestyle for modern society. With drug usage, it destroys the original goal of sport games. Nelson et al. mentioned the rank based education makes students focus on boosting GPA rather than deep thinking under the guidance of curiosity. Similarly, Sport participants would possibly spend more time on drug development rather than training athletes. As a result, adequate competition leads to a desired goal, while excessive competition deviated the goal.

Adequate competition brings progress on artwork, education and sports. Excessive competition may seem to bring a better result in statistics, such as higher GPA or higher scores in tennis. In reality, over competition reduces the desired achievement by deviating the attention of competition participants. In conclusion, adequate competition maximizes the desired outcomes.


  1. Hi Yang,

    Thank you for your post! I enjoyed reading your analysis of ranking methods used to evaluate students, which turns out to be one of the greatest, if not the most, source of competition in our education systems.

    You mentioned that the education systems method of ranking fosters a source of competition which alters the outcome of education from its original purpose. I agree with your point that competition can alter the final outcome of learning in students, yet I find that it is the intent behind engaging in this activity in the very first place that undergoes the most change. Nelson et al touch on the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation when explaining our reasoning behind engagement. I believe that these ranking systems used by education systems as a whole plant the seed for extrinsic motivation within children or students from the very moment they begin their education. Therefore I believe that competition not only alters ones final outcome after engaging in an educational system, but more so the entire process of learning as ones inner motivation takes on an alternate point of view. As you further mentioned, skills and desire for success are then derived from this initial sense of pressure which trigger more effort towards the task at hand, rather than for simply the joy of learning.

    I believe that competition does alter this initial motivation, which can be very hard further down the path to change, but et as Worrell et al suggested, if we are able to target this root source and instil a mindset in youth that competition should be centered on the self where striving for ones utmost highest potential is the sole goal, then potentially we will be that much closer to the “adequate” competition Nelson et al referenced. With such, maximizing achievement as well as minimizing failures and mistakes will be that much more attainable.

    Thanks for you post once more!



  2. Your point is something I can really get behind, thank you for your post.

    So far in class, we have been getting some mixed signals on what exactly competition is and whether and in what amounts is it productive, therefore I think your proposal of the ´golden mean´ is a good way to approach this inconsistency. I agree with your views on what is viewed as acceptable competition in different areas.

    When you were talking about Vasari´s and Nietzche´s views, would you say that ultimately Nietzche shot down Vasari´s idea of ´art beying competition´ by saying that by calling something genius or beyond competition is basically just saying ´no need to compete here´?

    Again, thank you for your post,



  3. Your response had many interesting points, one being the idea of competition that isn’t too extreme on either end. I strongly agree with this sentiment. Competition can certainly be healthy in terms of building character and teaching skills. For example, competition can be humbling, it can drive a person to achieve greater, and it can produce great things due to people constantly trying to out-do each other. I see the production aspect especially in technology, because the great pieces of technology today, I argue, stem from competing tech companies constantly trying to create and innovate in order to stay relevant. However, I certainly see the opposite end, because as we see in education, competing students constantly burn themselves out and are more focused on being efficient rather than learning. This all ties back to the idea of balance in competition, which you made a great point of emphasizing.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s