Having just recently started University, I decided to sign up for a number of sports societies that were available. These included many competitive team sports such as Rugby and basketball, as well as some other ones like general fitness and swimming. Although I'm not generally a big fan of competitive sports in a simulated scenario, I decided to join in order to meet new people, and develop skills in areas I may otherwise neglect in the course of my training. Just tonight I attended the first basketball training session, and I was suprised and shocked by a number of things.
The first thing I noticed was how you skill level dictated your importance and how much they wanted you to be there, as well as how much attention you recieved from those that had been with the team for years. Those that were playing more skill fully were encouraged more, were talked to more by the coach, and generally were treated better than those who weren't playing quite as well.
The next thing was around an hour in, the coach gave us a 'pep talk' about how we need to train hard over the coming months, because we're in a low position in the league table, and he does not want his name associated with 'a shit team'. At this point I remember thinking about how little this means to me, and how I was just there to do some cardio excercise and meet new people.
Finally, after a moderate amount of conditioning, drills and excercises, we got into a small game amongst the players that were there. Shortly after it started, people who were friendly and charming beforehand became aggressive and demanding, barking orders about formations and maneouvers. And then when someone missed what could've been "an easy basket", or when the other team scored one that could've been stopped, players became angry towards those who could've stopped it from happening. At this point I realised that I was the only one there who wasn't sinking my head into my hands every time the opposing team scored, and I found myself thinking how irrational it was that they were getting so upset about a ball falling through a metal ring. Even the people that were attending their first training sessions were swept up in this general vibe that if we did not win this "friendly" game that it would mean the end of life as we know it.
As all this was happening, I was constantly mentally comparing the attitudes I saw there to the attitudes that people at parkour training sessions generally display. People are encouraged to go at their own pace, and practitioners generally realise and accept that we are all different, and should not be compared to a single set standard. People are not judged based on their ability, and everyone usually talks in a friendly, polite manner. We offer each other support and encouragement, and everyone that's been training a while seems to consider things we talk about rationally, and take all manner of things into account.
My question is this; are the different attitudes parkour practitioners seem to demonstrate simply a result of the non-competitive nature of the discipline, or is it something much greater that helps us become more rational, enlightened human beings?