Playing to win

  • July 4, 2013
Playing to win

Hilary Levey Friedman's new book is on raising children in a competitive culture.

A book by Gates Cambridge alumna Hilary Levey Friedman on the pressure on young American children to do competitive afterschool activities is already getting major press attention although it is not due out until September.

Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture follows the path of primary school-age children involved in competitive dance, football, and scholastic chess.

It asks why American children participate in so many adult-run activities outside of the home, especially when family time is so scarce. Hilary [2002], who did an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transitions,  analyses the roots of these competitive afterschool activities and their impact. It suggests these activities have become “proving grounds for success in the tournament of life – especially when it comes to coveted admission to elite universities, and beyond”.

The book paints the context that leads to the rise of so-called Tiger Moms. It introduces concepts like competitive kid capital and pink warrior girls and details how American children learn how to play to win.

It has won plaudits from child experts, including Valerie Ramey, Professor and Chair of Economics, University of California, San Diego who said: “Hilary Levey Friedman has managed to convince numerous upper middle class parents and their children to pause from their mad dash between extra-curricular activities to explain why they have chosen this lifestyle. Using information from detailed interviews across a variety of activities, she provides a revealing account of the motivations that lie behind the dramatic rise in competitive children’s activities. This fascinating book forms a key part of an emerging body of research that links the increase in time devoted to childcare to parents’ worries about their children’s economic futures.”

The book is released on September 1st.

For more information, click here.

Latest News

Scholar recognised for research into misinformation

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been shortlisted for a Women of the Future Award for her research into countering misinformation. Melisa Basol [2018] was shortlisted for the science category of the UK Awards which recognises “truly remarkable female scientists, forging new ground in research and scientific achievement”. There are 11 other categories and three special […]

Scholars join forces on anti-cancer drug

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars have joined forces to work on a drug candidate that has the potential to replace one of the most widely used cancer drugs around the world. Dr Anand Jeyasekharan [2004], who did his PhD in Oncology, and Dr Chandler Robinson [2009] who did an MBA at Cambridge, will collaborate on a […]

Making the experiences of imprisoned women activists visible

Growing up in a small town in Bengal, Jigisha Bhattacharya [2022] developed a particular sensitivity to marginalised groups and conflicts between different communities and identities from an early age.  It is this interest and her experience of political protests at university, combined with a longstanding curiosity about the links between politics and the arts, that […]

The study of images in the computer age

Scholar-Elect Tristan Dot [2022] grew up with an interest in computer science and a passion for art history. As time evolved he began to see the similarities between computer vision and art history and has created his own works of art, using computer-generated images.  He says: “Art history is the study of images and so […]