Feed on

Good Sport

Is Simon more Goldstein or Whitworth when it comes to sportsmanship? That is the question.

Here’s how board games work in my family. We set up the game, ready for pitched battle. Turns take forever, as we play as though the fate of the free world is at stake. Blocks, checks, or any defensive maneuver on the part of opponents are taken personally. We mope. We plot. We can be ungracious losers.

As children, we say lots of things like “You’re going to win, aren’t you? I can tell you’re going to win. I might as well not play; you’ve already won.” At our absolute worst we quit games when we are behind and/or cheat. It’s so ugly that it’s barely fun. Until pretty late in life, I hated board games and avoided playing them. I just couldn’t manage my own competitiveness and the attendant Goldstein family psychodrama.

Here’s how board games work in Matt’s family. They set up the game, ready for pitched battle. Turns take varying lengths, but players are mocked and/or heckled if anyone takes too long. The room sounds much as it would during the NCAA basketball tournament. (That’s like the Super Bowl for you non Kentuckians.) Blocks or defensive maneuvers are celebrated, mainly by the blocker. Good offensive maneuvers are hooped and hollered about. They gloat. They preen. They are horribly ungracious winners.

At least, that’s how it first seemed to me. But that’s because I approached these games as War, and they approached them as Fun. The same chest-pounding that would send my entire family into a raging hissy fit is merely part of the fun at their house. It’s a culture clash for sure.

Now that we’ve started playing board games with Simon, mainly Sequence for Kids and Candyland, I’ve been watching for clues.

  1. “I’m going to win!” he screams: Whitworth
  2. “No! No! You don’t win. I want to win!” he pouts: Goldstein
  3. “I blocked you!” exclaimed with joy: Whitworth
  4. “You blocked me!” said with equal joy: Definitely Whitworth
  5. “Now it’s my turn to win!” or “Daddy won, and I won, too!”: If he understands the game, that’s a Goldstein maneuver (changing the rules to avoid disappointment). Otherwise, he’s just excited about the idea of anyone winning, which puts him squarely in the Whitworth camp.
  6. “I’m finished playing now,” said halfway through a long game in which no one has yet won and/or he’s way behind: Goldstein all the way!

It’s early days yet, but I think Whitworth tendencies are ahead. And I sure hope so! Heaven knows he’ll have more fun that way. Whereas I, saints preserve me, actually get a little (lot) defensive and peevish when Simon blocks me. We don’t need another Goldstein in this house!

One Response to “Good Sport”

  1. Amanda says:

    Well, in Simon’s defense, the “I’m finished now” may just be three-year old boredom and short attention span.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.