Jordan Brock

The Power of the Collective

So Saturday was Shoma’s (one of my nephews) School Sports Day. Most interesting.

Unlike most Australian school sports days which tend to be nothing but disorganised tedium, the Japanese school sports day is highly organised tedium sprinkled with moments of sheer craziness.

Exhibit A: The skipping rope game. All of the students in a particular year, in each of the three factions, are grouped in a line, bookended by 2 larger students with a large skipping rope between them. Then, each team in turn, they play jump rope, but with 25 students each jumping as one! And the team with the most jumps after 3 goes is the winner. Group participation at it’s best, with the objective apparently to create a feeling that “being part of the group, and doing things with that group, in the same way is the best that you can do.” HiveLogic.

Exhibit B: Each faction lines up, and bends at the waist. Another student clambers on to their backs, and runs along the line. As the kid on top runs over a student, they stand up, run around to the front of the line, and so the line moved forward. The objective being to get to the other end of the ground, and come back. The HiveLogic object probably being to show how working as a team can accomplish things that benefit all. Either that or they’re just having fun.

Sunday was Taylor’s (other nephew) sports day: for the younger kids. Pretty much the same sort of deal, but with different whacked out activities, including a massive group callesthenics and acrobatics display. This day also had some real sports. Running.

In Australia, it might take 30 minutes to get through 10 x 100m races. In Japan, it takes less than 3. Before each race is finished, the next lot are in the blocks. As soon as the previous race is finished, the starters gun fires and away they go. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.