Joshua Gans is 'over the moon' because his daughter won a sports event. With some qualifications he asserts winning is everything. Its a very American attitude and one I don't agree with particularly in relation to kids sport where I think the key objective for the vast majority of kids is to participate - to enjoy participating in a healthy activity. Assuming Joshua's type of elation feeds back into the incentives influencing sports participation decisions by youth it seems to me unhealthy for those who don't really need to win and don't in fact win. The key reward from sport is to the individual in terms of enhanced individual physical potentiality not their ability to rank themselves ahead of other competitors.
Nor, for that matter, am I overly concerned with the signalling function of education - the important issue is to add value not to order students 1,2,...N. Again the ordering is irrelevant because it does not map into something that reflects significant value in any field of life. From an individualistic perspective the point is to realise individual potential not to be ahead of the other guy.
For the same reasons I try not to be particularly interested in social star rankings based on power and wealth. Trying to have more money than the next guy is the source of 'rat race' externalities in work effort while the pursuit of power helps create that class of psychopaths who have miserable lives (they can never be happy themselves) and impose misery on their subordinates in business and administration.
Winning isn't everything. The point is to enjoy yourself - to realise your own potential - and not to concern yourself unduly with how you compare with others in terms of running races - either sporting or economic. This is, of course, an ideal and difficult to achieve.