Posted by Br. George Van Grieken, FSC
on 5 February 2019
It is entirely contrary to decorum to grow overexcited when you play. Still, you should not play in a careless manner nor lose deliberately as a way of flattering your opponent. This would make the person with whom you are playing think that you care little about contributing to his enjoyment in a well-played match.
- St. John Baptist de La Salle Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility: Amusements (Pg. 91)
And so we come to Grand Final Weekend, the closest thing that we have to a national ritual expression of our deep devotion to sports. Whether football fans or not, there are over 100,000,000 of us who tune in to cheer on our favorite teams, consume our favorite snacks, sit and argue the merits of players and plays with our favorite people, and generally settle into a comfortable afternoon as relaxing as that of the players is intensely active and professionally anxious. (Winners earn over $100K and a $35K ring.)
De La Salle understood the dynamics and positive aspects of sports and games. He wrote about the sorts of games that inner-city boys in 17th century France knew and loved outside of school . . . and sometimes during school. Here are some examples taken from the book he wrote on politeness, a book that was used as a reading textbook in his schools, so that these 10-to-13-year-old boys would learn something useful along with their reading skill.