By Lou Shan (13S06A) and Chen Haoxin (13S06Q)
Competition is no longer restricted to the fields and courts, where battles for gold and glory takes place. Its nets have spread; it can be found in everything everywhere. It is there, in games of Temple Run and Scramble, in the latest Chemistry test where tension runs high, in crucial moments of competition finals. It is here, there, everywhere. Rafflesians are noted for their ferocity during competitions and their drive to excel; it has become a part of their lives. But where does this spirit come from?
Is it imbued into our inner Rafflesian souls alongside the school cheers, the institution anthem, and the school colours? After all, these are symbols representing Raffles, setting us apart from other schools during competitions. Take a step back and question: is it even a Rafflesian trait to strive for the best, to win and outdo others, so as to stand at the peak?
The passion for competition cannot be cultivated overnight; it takes time, and has been drilled into our hearts, minds, and souls, slowly but surely, over the past years.
For students under the Raffles Programme, the will to compete has been etched in their minds, bit by bit, over the past four, five years and counting. Firstly, there were the houses that played a crucial part when they first entered as Secondary Ones. Being a part of that house, the one you were proud of, fostered the house-bonding, pride, and the desire to cheer, fight, and win for your house.
Also, because of the label ‘Raffles’, one is expected to perform well and be the ‘cream of the crop’. The high expectations of family members, friends, teachers and the like have driven the students’ desire to excel at CCA, academically. They want to be better, to be the best, and all these can only be attained through competition.
For those entering Raffles only at Year Five, does it matter? After all, for them, the past four years would not have gone past mundane and peaceful. There were bound to be moments of competition. For one, ‘O’ Levels alone would have put them under intense academic competition and undue stress.
Stepping into RI, the ever-present competitive aura would have overwhelmed them; their friends, classmates, and OG-mates would have influenced them. This competitiveness was strengthened during orientation, which was mostly about ‘meeting new people and having fun playing games’. It helped to ‘get the ball rolling to make friends’. The games, inter-house competitions all worked towards aiding group bonding. As quoted from Sai Surya of 13SO6A, ‘Orientation was the event which welcomed all the students with open arms to the Rafflesian community, and the O’some OGLs helped to remove barriers between Oglings, enabling [them] to develop closer bonds.’ This bond unites hearts, brings people together, making them even more eager to win and gain pride for their houses and groups. It ‘really made everyone in the OG closer and friendlier, and more like a family that welcomes you in school’, reflected Jarvis Go.
Yet, room is needed for this competitive spirit to develop.
In the various areas of life, ranging from academics to sports, every Rafflesian has their own forte, or even, for some (if there is such a word), fortes. They have their own strengths, outstanding areas they want to showcase. With displays of strength come opponents, with opponents come comparisons, and with comparison comes competition.
First, let’s look at academics. Schoolwork plays a major role in our lives; everyone in school has the potential to obtain excellent results, and hence, it is impossible to be completely nonchalant and not care about results. After all, it is studying. And hence, students will want to compete in scores, abilities, and time taken to solve those pesky Mathematic questions.
Sports encourages competition between sportsmen — ‘warring’ during inter-school competition, pitching against each other in number of awards won, number of points, and goals scored. For everyone, there is competition in everyday sports, from the timing for the dreaded 2.4km run to the number of sit-ups during NAPFA. Because it encompasses everything physical, competition in sports is everywhere, for everyone.
At the end of the day, is competition beneficial? We would hazard that the answer is yes. Over time, when the initial sense of accomplishment and ego boost fades away, competition promotes bonding, a sense of belonging, and motivation for all of us. Bonds are forged and strengthened as members of teams and groups unite as one entity, as opponents gradually become friends through long-term competing. The sense of belong occurs because possessing the Rafflesian trait allows us to fit into the environment with greater ease: being similar to those around you provides a sense of security and comfort. And finally, competition drives one to work harder, to be better than the day before, and this allows students to reach for greater heights and achieve more.
All in all, healthy competition in various aspects of life, cultivated by long-term influence, benefits school life, makes it more interesting, and inspires individuals to work harder to achieve goals and beat out competition, becoming stronger in the process.