The joy of sport

When many of us play sport, we do so to have fun. If we are paying to play this makes sense; why pay for something if we are not going to enjoy it? At a social level it is the responsibility of every player to do what they can to ensure this happens. This need not be in isolation from playing as well as we can to try and win.

Making sure it is fun for everyone who is playing can be a difficult prospect. The goals each player has for a specific game can be different. The skill level can vary drastically from player to player. But, I try to encourage an environment in which people can feel included and are able to enjoy the game, whichever ever team they are playing for, no matter the score.

Ultimate is a sport where responsibility to abide by the rules and uphold the spirit of the game is inbuilt into how it works. Being self-refereed, if everyone communicates effectively, by listening and speaking at the appropriate times, the game works. By entering into discussion only when appropriate, and acknowledging when we infringe on the rules, each game can be enjoyable, even if our team is not playing as well as we know we can. In the majority of games I have played this has true, and the game was enjoyed by each player playing regardless of the score.

However, like anything, there are exceptions. Sometimes we are blinded by the lure of victory. Sometimes we feel a sense of injustice when someone’s perspective does not align with what we believe occurred. Sometimes players can intentionally bend or break the rules to benefit their team’s cause. Sometimes that player is us.

I admit there are times when I have held fast to my perspective even after thinking about it and finding a high likelihood my perspective was incorrect. We all make mistakes. This is part of being human. The problem comes when we are not willing to examine our behaviour, and if there is something wrong, change it. While playing sport there are good ways to communicate and there are not so good ways. If we believe a player has broken a rule – intentionally or accidentally – we may have an instinctually aggressive reaction, feeling we have been wronged. Taking this aggression into a conversation is unlikely to help.

Yes, we must acknowledge the emotion we are feeling, but take a deep breath, and identify the best outcome to achieve a game which is as enjoyable as possible for all the players.

Sometimes I struggle to accept help when it is offered. I’m sure we all do. I’m getting better at realising when this happens. One of the ways my depression manifests is feeling irrational anger when someone suggests solutions to problems I’m having at that time. Ultimate offers a way for me to examine this part of myself in a safe environment, with good people.

Are there things that cause you to have a strong initial emotional reaction? Why do you think this is? Let us know in the comments below, and we can start a conversation to fill our mental toolboxes.

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