“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
I’ve seen some pretty wild behavior on elementary school playgrounds when it comes to football. We had students who absolutely HAD to play it. Who brought their own balls (and sometimes even other pieces of gear) to do so. Who argued vociferously when denied the privilege due to prior problems.
Play wasn’t for everyone. Students would only play with or against specific students. Arguments about skill levels and plays were a regular occurrence. There was a single absolute goal: To Win. When something didn’t go right, hostilities were not left on the field and would carry over into the lunchroom and beyond.
Plato’s words speak on a couple of levels to me. I’d argue that we need BOTH the play AND the conversation. Sports organization in the elementary level seem to be channeling students towards a specific high school at an extremely young age. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, when the students absorb a strong us-versus-them message so early, they can easily misinterpret or process the message in an extremely negative manner.
Going around a tag zone acting like a dinosaur or rock star in Ro-Sham-Bo Evolution can put anyone- student or adult- in a completely different mindset than normal. Good-natured fun with no other goal than to enjoy the experience with others as practiced in the framework provided by organizations Playworks, can change you in surprising ways. It also gives everyone around you another perspective of you. Wacky and silly- but still you. Just...different..
Perhaps different enough to open up some new and interesting conversations.