(2 minute read)
I recall a lecture at university, while studying Physical Education, from the esteemed Bill Walker. He was determined to share the distinct differences between Play and Sport so we could understand the contrast and the potential outcomes and implications of both pursuits.
Play can be defined as uncountable activity, without a need for structure or rules or authority figures, most often for the purpose of amusement and/or discovery and exploration.
In contrast, Sport is countable activity, requiring physical exertion or skills competitively under a set of rules and governed by some authority.
To watch children at the beach, building a castle or sculpture of any kind is to see play in its truest sense. It can consume them for hours.
As adults, it seems we have abandoned play, as we give our tasks a timeframe, goal, or some other objective or outcome.
What if we could tap into play to enhance our life experiences, our professions, our relationships, and our family lives as well?
Albert Einstein referred to play as the highest form of research.
Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity. In addition to these benefits, play amongst the adult population has been found to improve memory, improve energy levels, and keep us feeling younger!
The upsides are clear (and desirable), yet we allow our working week or family routine to put a stop to the ‘fun bits’.
The recent popularity of colouring-in books for adults, family cycling outings, painting and drawing, are all examples of play.
Ritual play has similar benefits, yet incorporates rules and structures, as can be seen in chess and other board (or online) games.
As our world has embraced the flexibility of working in a hybrid professional environment, maybe it’s time to channel our inner child and take a break to play-for-plays-sake, to do something fun that brings you joy – without the expectation of a result.