Differences Between Cooperative & Group Sports

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will distinguish cooperative sports from group sports. Examples of cooperative and group sport activities will be provided for different age levels.

Cooperative vs. Group Sports

In the United States, we live in a culture that is very sports oriented. Kids grow up playing sports, strive for sports scholarships in college, and dream of making the pros some day. Who hasn't heard of Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Babe Ruth? From Monday night football to watching a Major League Baseball game, sports are part of our daily lives, and the athletes who play them are revered role models.

However, group or team sports are based on competition, and they differ from cooperative sports. Let's take a look at cooperative and group sports and see the distinguishing factors of each.

Cooperative Sports

Cooperative sports are based on just that - cooperation. The fundamental idea behind cooperative sports is that there is no competition. When there is no competition, there are no winners and losers. There is only one team, and they play to play, not play to win. Some elements incorporated into cooperative sports are:

  • Everyone gets to play, not just the best players.
  • The emphasis is on having fun.
  • No scores are kept.
  • There are no performance comparisons.
  • There are no winners and losers.
  • Everyone gets an equal amount of turns.

Group Sports

Group sports differ from cooperative sports primarily on one factor: they are based on competition. Group sports consist of one team playing against another. The teams are not playing to play; they are playing to win. Professional sports as we know them are group sports. Some elements of group sports include:

  • Scores are kept.
  • There are winners and losers.
  • The emphasis is on goal setting and achievement.
  • Only the best players get turns.

Types of Cooperative and Group Sports and Games

Preschool Games

An example of a group game at the preschool level that encourages competition is musical chairs. When playing musical chairs, the object is to find a chair to sit in once the music stops. If a child can't find a chair, they are automatically eliminated.

In order to turn musical chairs into a cooperative game, the element of competition needs to be eliminated. So, the focus instead would be on sharing chairs to sit in rather than on eliminating the child who fails to find a chair.

Elementary Sports

A popular game/sport played at the elementary level is wiffle ball. When played as a competitive group sport, the rules are much like baseball. The game consists of forming two teams, with a pitcher on one and batter on the other. Batters who fail to hit the ball after three good pitches strike out. After three strikes, the team is out. Scores are kept, and the goal is to win.

Wiffle ball can also be played cooperatively, however. By not keeping score, not counting outs, not creating two separate teams, and giving everyone equal turns in every position, the game becomes cooperative in nature, and competition is eliminated.

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