Piper, Steven (2014) The Place and Limits of Competition in the Physical Education Curriculum. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire.
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Sports Policy in England has undergone radical change in recent years and nowhere is this better exemplified than within the Physical Education Curriculum. The Coalition Government has introduced severe cuts to the sector and a new ethos, placing competition back at the heart of their sporting strategy. This rigorously competitive structure known as the ‘School Games’ promises to build a powerful competitive legacy that will produce individuals ready to ‘win’ in all spheres of life. Such an approach completes an ideological turnaround in Physical Education which was started by the previous Labour Government in the mid-2000s, and culminated with the hosting of the 2012 Olympics in London. This policy raises the highly contested question about the value of competition within the educational and sporting sphere. An approach based so heavily in competition might produce a generation of young people ready to work hard, accept challenges and win or lose with equal grace. However such an intense focus on competition might instead create individuals obsessed with winning, teaching them to view others as mere obstacles standing in the way of victory, on the playing field and beyond. This thesis considers and investigates the value of competition in relation to Physical Education, primarily from a philosophical mode of inquiry. It outlines the etymology of the term ‘competition’, and how it has been perceived and valued by other cultures through history. It also demonstrates the way in which political ideology affects the extent to which competition is framed and implemented in the Physical Education curriculum. Finally recommendations are made as to how ‘competition’ ought to be conceived. This points to a moral rather than technical conception that best enables the Aristotelian concept of eudemonia and an ethical community.