Play, Games and Sports….

Play, Games and Sports … want to know more?


English is a funny language. More so because a lot of words used daily are also used as “technical” (read – specific, narrow meaning) words by psychologists.

Play, Game and Sports are like that. In the sport of Cricket, a game is usually started by the umpire saying “Gentlemen, let’s play.” So all three words used in the same context!!

Unfortunately, psychology is a bit more convoluted. Let me explain –

Play – usually played alone, always unstructured, almost dream like, no rules at all, symbolic, experimentation all around, emotion laden, role oriented, very little equipment needed mostly one thing can be used in various roles, no spectators needed. E.g. – one or more kids playing “house”, “pretend play”. Only kids do this. When adults do it, it is “art”.

Game – usually more than one person involved, mutually agreed rules that are changeable mid-game by common consent, fun, very little role play, little sense of competition, no coaching needed, can be learned while playing directly for the first time, no adult involvement needed, very little equipment needed, spectators can be accommodated but not necessary. E.g. – card games, board games, ground games like hide and seek, fire on the mountain, etc. Kids do this occasionally adults play games as relaxation and fun.

Sports – modern substitute for war; internationally agreed, written down rules; coaching and adult participation mandatory; special clothes, equipments, facilities, time, safety gear mandatory; no equipment needed can be made by a child with his own hands at home using easily available material; very competitive; little or no fun at all (people who find organised sports funny have really missed out on fun-play as children) ; no value without spectators and winning. Only adults play this. Kids doing sports are really preparing for adult form.


I believe that you must have got the point by now. That point is – Play is necessary for normal psychological growth, creativity and relaxation. Games teach us how to have fun by agreeing to obey some rules and learn social skills in the process. Sports is for adult fitness, release of competitive neuroses and as a source of earning.


“Play” is what artists, scientists, creative people do. Play is where we learn problem solving. Now the choice is yours…

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