“Kill em’ Kyle”, “Smash em’ Steven”, “Crush em’ Chuck”. Why were these commands plastered all over my neighborhood as I went for my morning run? Are Chuck, Kyle and Steve going to war? No, because another banner read “Put it in the Net Jeff”. These are merely young men playing another game in the Hockey playoffs. Isn’t it about time we examine our metaphors in sports? Isn’t how we play supposed to prepare us for how we live?
The metaphor of War; killing, crushing and smashing your opponent must pass as we are living in a society demanding more collaboration than dominion, more self-mastery than overpowering your opponent. We can still play sports and compete with more emphasis on “putting it in the net”, rather than smashing our opponent. If your opponent falls over while finessing it into the net then so be it, but it is secondary to the game.
We live in a world that is requiring more examination and mastery of the self so we are better prepared to collaborate and function in a pluralistic world. The old zeitgeist of dominion, conquest, and winning at all cost is beginning to leave carbon foot prints. This is notable in adversarial, litigious divorce evolving to collaborative divorce. It is notable in our efforts to engage in diplomacy before rushing to military solutions in complex world problems.
So can we begin playing like we need to live? Can we focus on how to be our best, rise up to the occasion, and do all we can to do to be part of a team that plays and competes to their potential? Perhaps the commands would go something like, “Finesse it Phil”, “Skate Large Larry”, “Score Kohr”, and “Shoot the net out Bruce”, rather than focusing on killing and smashing your opponent. The latter commands are artifacts from our distant past and it is time to bury dualistic and adversarial thinking. Let’s change how we think about playing so we are better prepared to live.