Games, Winning and Education..

15 Jul

In 1975 a Cambridge philosopher, Charles Bailey, wrote a controversial article ‘Games, Winning and Education’ in which he suggested that team games, indeed games involving opponents, had no place in the school curriculum. Allowing for certain bi-products such as sportsmanship, the team-ethic etc, Charles, as I remember, argued that the presence of an opponent involves the tawdry desire for him/her to lose. Further it encourages gamesmanship, playing to the letter but not the spirit of rules and a number of other unwholesome outcomes. Better to teach rock climbing and yoga where the individual challenges him/herself and let clubs outside school get on with teaching the professional foul.

Now Charles might carp at my crude summary of his argument but you get the gist. After yesterday’s super Sunday (Cricket, DjokFed,F1 and Netball) and with the Ashes, Open Golf and World Cup rugby on the horizon, sport in general and games in particular are in our faces in a glorious way this summer. Oft has it been said that the great gladiatorial clashes of individuals and teams take the emotions of nations to levels of agony and ecstasy beyond the dull opiate of politics. Well the beam-me-up-Scottie factor is desperately needed these days.

What we saw in the truly great matches at Wimbledon and Lord’s yesterday was sporting combat played with levels of intensity beyond any of our wildest sporting experience. And in the moments of victory and defeat we saw humility, sportsmanship and an appreciation of the opponent which was an education for young and old; something that sports teachers and club coaches should carry with them as they guide our newly enthused youngsters down the fun path of participation and joy in sport.

Without wanting to dampen the mood of the moment, I wonder whether Messrs  Johnson, Hunt or Corbyn learnt very much at all from their sporting education? We know that Boris liked rugger at prep school but his bull-in-a-china-shop outtakes suggest that he learnt little of team tactics. Jeremy-rhyming-slang, although Head Boy at Charterhouse seems to have no sporting credits according to Wikipedia. Presumably that was why he was made Minister for Culture, Media and Sport. As for Jezza the Red, his claim to sporting fame rests on his support of the Gunners, be they Hezbollah or Arsenal. He too, of course, went to a prep school and, after, a grammar school. Institutions that he would now ban, of course. If we add Theresa maybe into the equation, we have only the Maybot to gauge her athletic abilities. Hmm.

It might be interesting to look at the sporting education of those in public office whom we admire most. For the time being I hope that those to whom we entrust our democracy, can learn from the planning, expertise, determination, stamina, execution, integrity, humility, honour and respect for their games and their opponents – all these things displayed in vast measure, yesterday – Super Sunday. A real education. And a delight for the nation.

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One Response to “Games, Winning and Education..”

  1. Nick July 17, 2019 at 9:29 pm #

    Certainly enjoyed that perception on life and sport!

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