Throwing games

I’m a competitive person. At least, I am if I allow myself to be. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t really buy the ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ argument. I’m much more of the play-to-win persuasion. This creates a moral dilemma when working with young people. It wouldn’t be helpful to engage in a metaphoric fight to the death over Jenga, Playstation or table tennis. Unnecessarily demoralising for one thing; downright annoying would be another reason. At the same time, you can’t throw games really obviously because the opposition senses you’re not trying and gets upset by that. So there is a skill to be developed in throwing games convincingly.

Working in another country adds another twist to this scenario. Language. Some young people have a smattering of English, some don’t. Tonight I managed a couple of successful table tennis game. I lost both! I did so convincingly while keeping an agreed score count in Bosnian. I even manage to pronounce my opponent the winner in local language. He was always going to win. I quickly realised this as he counted it as his point if he was the last to hit the ball, regardless of where the ball ended up after it left his paddle. But, dodgy counting or not, it was worth throwing the games to see the look on his face once he’d decided he’d won!


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