18 Schoolyard Games That Promoted Competitiveness Now Replaced by Inclusive Activities

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Schoolyard games play an integral part in a child’s school life. They teach children much about life when they make friends or engage in numerous activities. But as time passes, perceptions have evolved. Back then, what was seen to foster cooperation might be criticized for promoting competition today. Today, we’ll look at 18 games that are known to promote competitiveness and have now been replaced by more inclusive activities.

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Dodgeball is a popular game where players try to hit opponents with a ball to eliminate them. However, people today feel that its competitive nature often leads to feelings of exclusion and targeting, where the stronger players dominate the weaker ones. They feel that this domination could create a terrific and anxious environment for those who are less athletic and diminish their self-esteem. Cooperative tag is getting more attention than this as it frees tagged players rather than eliminating them and emphasizes teamwork, strategy, and mutual support.

Red Rover

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Red Rover is a game in which someone from the opposing team breaks through their linked arms. However, this act often results in physical injury and exclusion of physically strong children. It’s also believed that such things can lead to embarrassment and a sense of shortage. People now promote more team-building games like parachute games, where all children work together to keep a parachute moving.

Musical Chairs

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Who hasn’t played musical chairs? It’s the signature game of almost every party where players try to grab a seat for themselves from the limited seats available when the music stops. The one who is left standing without a seat would be eliminated. However, the elimination process could lead children to feel exclusion and anxiety. To prevent this, musical spots are seen as an alternative where everyone dances until the music stops and then finds a spot to stand on.


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Kickball is similar to baseball, but the difference is that the ball is bigger. Baseball emphasized winning and losing teams, which created a competitive environment for less skilled players. So, to find an alternative, people are switching to more inclusive games like cooperative kickball, where the focus is on teamwork and achieving group goals rather than individual scores. In this game, every child works together to keep the ball in play and reach base.

Tug of War

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Tug of War is one of the most memorable games among other games. It involves teams pulling on opposite ends of a rope to drag the other team across a line. However, the competitiveness of this often results in causing injuries and feelings of failure for the losing team. As an alternative, games like group relays are being promoted, where children help each other achieve a common objective with teams working together.

Capture the Flag

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Capture the Flag is a game where students are required to invade the opposing team’s territory to capture their Flag. People believe it promotes a win-lose mentality and sometimes could lead to aggressive behaviors. They feel that The Treasure Hunt is a much better alternative to this as the teams work together to find hidden items. Children focus on exploration, teamwork, and shared excitement, which creates a supportive environment.

Four Square

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In Four Square, players try eliminating each other by bouncing a ball into different squares. Parents believe it leaves children with a hierarchy of skill levels feeling dominated. There are more cooperative games, like ball games, where the objective is to keep the ball in play as long as possible. Parents feel that such games emphasize teamwork and communication as players work together to maintain the game.

Simon Says

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Simon Says is a game where players must follow commands when prefixed with ‘Simon Says.’ If they fail to do so or make a mistake, elimination is waiting for them. However, this game has been overshadowed by activities like follow-the-leader, where there’s no elimination and everyone participates equally. People believe it promotes mutual respect and teaches them soft skills like team leadership and management.

Relay Races

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Relay Races are one of the most popular obstacle races where teams run faster than the other in a competition to finish first. While it’s suitable for building physical strength, people believe that it also leads to feelings of pressure and disappointment for slower participants. To make it inclusive for everyone, other obstacle games are being adapted as the focus must be on cooperation and mutual support with children working together to navigate challenges.

Sharks and Minnows

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Some players are dressed as ‘sharks,’ and they try to catch the other players dressed as ‘minnows.’ Based on a predator-prey dynamic, there is also a ‘safe’ area that ‘sharks’ can’t enter. People believe it creates an intimidating atmosphere for less physically flexible children, making them feel scared and anxious. They also argue that the overall nature can also lead to aggressive behaviors like bullying. To prevent this, they promote alternatives like the ‘everybody’s it’s a tag, where everyone chases and gets chased to ensure equal participation.

King of the Hill

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In today’s world, King of the Hill promotes aggression and a win-at-all-costs mentality, as players must maintain a position at the top of a mound by pushing others off. Parents believe that hill climbing is a more inclusive than this, as the goal is to help everyone reach the top together. They feel that children should learn the value of teamwork and mutual support rather than ego and lone success.


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Spud is a game where a player throws a ball, and others run away. The thrower tries to hit the other players with the ball, and people feel that it can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear of injury to children. Hence, safer alternatives like ball passing games are being promoted, focusing on teamwork and skill development to reduce the risk of injury and promote a supportive atmosphere.


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In Tetherball, two players hit a ball attached to a pole to wind the rope ultimately around the pole in their direction. It is a game of intense competition and could also lead to frustration. Alternatives like cooperative ball games are being adopted to ensure everyone’s participation in it. In those games, children work together to achieve a shared goal, ensuring everyone contributes to the game.


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Statue is a popular game in which the players freeze in their places, and the diner turns around. However, some say it leads to frustration and exclusion for those caught moving. As an alternative to this, games like Freeze Dance have caught people’s attention. They allow children to move and freeze according to the music. Everyone dances when the music plays and freezes when it stops, but there is no elimination.

Keep Away

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Keep away involves players keeping the ball away from one player standing in the middle. The one standing in the middle struggles to retrieve the ball, which could lead to feelings of frustration and exclusion. Keep Away is being replaced by inclusive ball games that encourage sharing and teamwork, such as group juggling. The motive is to keep multiple balls in the air with everyone’s participation.

Smear the Queer

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In Smear the Queer, one player holds a ball and is chased by others who try to tackle them. Many parents feel that it promotes aggressive behavior and could lead to injuries and feelings of exclusion for those who are less physically able. Even its name is discriminatory to LGBT+ people. Activities like cooperative ball games are promoted where participants play together and achieve a common goal.

Fox and Hound

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In this game, one player is dressed as the ‘Fox’ and chased by the rest of the members, the ‘Hounds.’ The chase continues until the fox is tagged, but parents believe it could lead to fear and anxiety for the one dressed up as the ‘fox’. To eliminate this, they focus on more inclusive activities like cooperative tag games where everyone can be both the chaser and the chased without elimination to ensure continuous participation.

Crack the Whip I

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n the game Crack the Whip, children form a line holding hands, and the last person is swung around. This game promotes intense competition and could lead to injuries. However, it has been replaced by more controlled and safer group activities like group balancing games, emphasizing stability and support for the children instead of creating a high-pressure environment.

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