For me this is quite an interesting topic. In many places they say that winning is not everything and that the important part is to play the game. I tend to disagree because for me, losing isn’t a satisfying result. Who likes to lose? Sure, in losing there’re lessons to be learned, but if we go with my mentality we’ll miss lots of youth development and some players that might fly under the radar because we’ll be focused on getting the best players in order to win! This is what the big soccer leagues (German, French, Spanish, English and Italian) are doing. This is why we see more players that have passed their athletic prime still competing, I mean it’s amazing for them to have reached the plateau that was said to exist, which is anywhere between 28 – 33, so it’s an amazing achievement for them.
Winning matters the most because you:
- participate (can’t win without participating)
- put in effort (even geniuses’ study)
- mature (opponents mature so you have also too)
If professional sports cared more about participation we’d see more players from the ages 16 – 21 playing alongside senior players, yet we rarely see this now.
With that being said, I believe that yes, we should always strive for a win and nothing less! In some cases we might accept a tie, but we should always strive for a win no matter the difficulty or the opponent. Yet some situations must be put into perspective, like situations where a win isn’t everything or something lucky happens. For example the match between Porto FC and Inter Milan, how Porto FC was very unlucky with a few balls hitting the crossbar instead of going in the goal.
I believe winning would be important over participation when you look at the following:
- Personal goals and achievements: we are humans who have a particular selfish desire that we want to achieve.
- Team goals and achievements: we are mentors, so we need to look at the team and the individual goals for the team.
- personal goals and achievements: they are humans also they have their own selfish desires that they want
- team goals: they should play not to improve themselves but their teammates and develop teamwork and soft skills.
Organization / Board:
- Let’s be frank, they only care about the results and profits, similar to any for-profit organizations.
“As a theoretical framework concerned with individuals’ conceptions of what it means to be successful, achievement goal theory provides an appropriate vantage point from which to compare the importance of winning with other factors that might affect motivated behavior. Achievement goal theory incorporates both personal and environmental aspects of goal-directed achievement behavior. Nicholls (1984, 1989) identiﬁed two different ways of deﬁning success and construing one’s level of competence, labeling them ego involvement and task involvement. Individuals are ego involved when their deﬁnition of personal success and demonstrated competence is other referenced. The goal is to show that one is superior to relevant others, or to avoid appearing inferior to others. Ego-involved individuals feel successful when they out-perform their peers or do as well as others without concerted effort.” 
From my knowledge, mainstream sport leagues like the English Premier League and other soccer leagues would give a good reward to the clubs at the top the league or ones getting promoted from lower to higher leagues. The Majority of American sports don’t have per say promotion and demotion which is a completely different topic.
The leagues give a good lump sum to the winner and nothing to the other teams. I believe this is an incentive to make teams to consistently preform their best, but recently it isn’t much. Most clubs now care about a few different things: International competition, results from betting (this is probably a good income option in Europe), merchandising, and ads.
The only teams that would sacrifice performance for wins would be a team that wants a promotion or a team that has never won a cup and they’re able to win-and this comes at the cost of participation.
In all honesty I see that in professional team sports participation is not a main concern. I say this because recently we do not see any 16-year-old given the chance to perform on a senior team (I am specifically referring to soccer). In the past we would see many young talented players, like Rooney, Giggs, and Ronaldo and many more came up.
There are coach’s goals that are split into team goals and individual goals. The team goal is complex because that will include both team and individual goals.
An example of a player’s goal might be to become the top scorer of the league. The team goal can be to reach the top table or win the league. The coach’s goal can be that he wants to develop athletes or to win competitions. Also, having a selfish goal is not a dreadful thing. In some scenarios there will be the need to play the players you know will perform well to get the desired results. In some cases the results are not important. For me, the coach and the team should be able to identify what is important on a case by case basis.
For example, the Liverpool vs Manchester United match that took place where Liverpool won 7 – 0 and then lost afterwards. In this game Liverpool needed to win. They had a bad run before by losing 5 – 2 at home in the European Champions League first leg from Real Madrid. The pressure was high. Here you can see the coach choose the players that would get him the win and once he was comfortable, around the fifth goal, he started to play other players. This is a situation where a win was needed to lift the morale of the players and the confidence of the fans. Man UTD on the other hand had a great run and win or no win they weren’t in a demoralized state (yet before Liverpool reminded us of Cristiano Ronaldo with the score line.). Manc UTD took the participation route and lost and now they are under a lot of pressure. As a result they will have to play to win the coming games as they have about a 0.001% chance to win the league.
In individual sports like tennis, fencing, and boxing the individual wants to win not for the prize money but for the glory, the title of winner or to become the number one in this sport for a particular gender, weight class etc… but also in tennis if it’s a well-known player like Nadal and Federer, just participating might be enough to prove to themselves and us that they are at a high enough level to compete at their current ages.
I think it depends on the situation; we tend to say winning isn’t everything, but the truth is no one likes to lose.
 Cumming, Sean & Smoll, Frank & Smith, Ronald & Grossbard, Joel. (2007). Is Winning Everything? The Relative Contributions of Motivational Climate and Won-Lost Percentage in Youth Sports. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology – J APPL SPORT PSYCHOL. 19. 322-336. 10.1080/10413200701342640.