"Real life is an informal sport, not a formal one"

In his article "Some Lessons Taught by Informal Sports, Not Taught by Formal Sports," Dr. Peter Gray, who writes frequently and deeply about play, identifies some "lessons of informal sports" which are downright hippifying.

Here's the pith:
  1. There is no real difference between your team and the opposing team.
  2. To keep the game going, you have to keep everyone happy, including the players on the other team.
  3. Rules are modifiable and are generated by the players themselves.
  4. Conflicts are settled by argument, negotiation, and compromise.
  5. Playing well and having fun really ARE more important than winning.

One of the reasons I am so attracted to his work is that it strongly supports everything I've written in The Well-Played Game.

To wit, his comments on keeping everyone happy, even the players on the other team (2):
In the minds of the players, the informal game is conducted just for fun. Nobody is forced or pressured to play. There are no coaches, parents, or other adults who will scold you or be dissappointed if you quit; no fans to please. There are no trophies or other prizes to win or lose. A score may be kept, and players may cheer each time one of their own crosses home plate or makes a great play, but tomorrow nobody will remember who won. Part of the definition of free play is that players are free to quit at any time (see definition of play). Because they are free to quit, the game can continue only as long as a sufficient number of players choose to continue. They will continue playing if they are having fun; they will find some reason to quit if they are not. Every experienced player knows that implicitly. Therefore, every player who wants to keep the game going is motivated to keep the other players happy, including those who are on the "enemy team."
If you enjoy this weblog, I heartily recommend that you read Dr. Gray's article, as well as the bulk of his play-related articles on his Freedom to Learn website.



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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