Friday, November 2, 2012

Student Disagreements in Sports

I was watching five or six boys play this outdoor sport called army ball. Their game had paused because they had disagreement on the rules of the game. Before I get into that disagreement, I need to describe a bit on how the game is played.

Army ball is very similar to baseball but you use a dodgeball for the ball and one of your arms for the bat. But, there could be more than just two teams. You could have three or four teams with two players each, three teams of three players each, or four teams of three players each and so on. Bottom line, however many teams you have, they'll each have the same number of players. Only one team will go up to bat. The other teams will be either on base or in the outfield. In terms of getting the batting team out, they can either be struck out, out by catching the ball, or tagged. However, you could also play it where there are no strike outs. That is where the disagreement originated from in the game that I was observing.

So, a student was at bat. He kept complaining about how the ball was being thrown too low or too fast. After a few pitches, a student playing as the umpire says that he's out. He threw a tantrum because he was under the assumption that there were no strike outs. A couple other students were under the same impression, but then five other students said that there were strike outs. Because of that argument, the entire game was halted. What could have prevented this argument.

This argument could have been prevented from the very beginning if they had all just agreed from the start that there would or would not be strike outs. Can't decide whether to have strike outs or not? Time to be democratic. Take a vote. If more students vote for strike outs, then there will be strike outs. If more students vote against strike outs, there will not be strike outs. Students don't like that majority rule went against their favor? Ok. Then, they simply need to play another game. And, back to the game they go.

This is the bottom line. To minimize conflicts between students in sports or games, the rules must be both clearly stated and understood. If they are either not clearly stated or not understood, then students will have disagreements. Why? Because there will be one student who will assume that the rules are X and the other will assume that they are not X (i.e. strike outs or no strike outs). And, people who make different assumptions will act differently.

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