Dating back to April 2020, when Deerfield’s school administration began planning for the return-to-school for the 2020-2021 year, I knew that fall 2020 season would be different than any other for our 17 interscholastic teams. Regardless of the many COVID-19 health and safety limitations this community had to adhere to in order to safely open, our goal from the beginning was to provide a wide-range of co-curricular activities just like we had done in previous years. Teams would be formed, dance recitals planned and a theater production would happen; “the show must go on.”
When students returned to campus their start to the school year began very slowly. In a short time the community emerged from quarantine, began in-person classes, and began to meet with their third cohort – the co-curricular groups. Emerging 1.0 began with teams and activities maintaining strict distances and focusing mostly on activities students could do independently from one another. Over a period of around two weeks our community graduated to emerging 2.0 and with our teams “intermittent contact” was permissible. Slowly life after school started to feel a little more predictable, along with an allowance to become a little more competitive. By the third week in October the idea of having Green and White scrimmages was introduced to teams. From that point, on Wednesdays teams split into two sides and scrimmaged one another. The Green and White games this fall were created to give teams a sense of purpose with something for everyone to rally for. On the last Saturday of the fall season all the teams had one last day of competition; capping off a season we will never forget.
Green & White scrimmages were played with referees and students donned their game uniforms. Our referees were COVID-tested on our campus regularly and to a person they were great contributors giving us the extra effort arriving to campus on separate days to be tested and then returning on game days. They were very much a part of this experience as we saw the same group week after week. In my conversations with them they expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be here and shared their admiration for our students. In these extraordinary times it is the unexpected that can make a big difference and I want to thank our friends wearing black and white for their care and dedication to their work.
I have been asked several times in recent weeks “why have these games?” The answer for me is simple; our students are eager to compete and creating competition the right way is a good thing. Practicing skills for an eight-week period can get boring pretty quickly, and even though I’m not an advocate for more games and fewer practices, I do understand that kids like to compete and see where they stand in the sports they play. I’m also a firm believer that competition allows our students to “play” at higher levels. Competing for balls or for space creates excitement, it fosters cooperation among teammates, and it helps develop emotional control. Without competition our students might be less inspired to push themselves and be more creative in their play.
I am proud of all the co-curricular leaders this fall; in particular our team coaches’ approach to working with their teams knowing there would be no interscholastic games. Whether players were expecting this season to help them in their college prospects or simply wanting to get better for future seasons, allowing our teams to compete helped shape a season that needed meaning. Competition helps athletes acquire and perfect their skills. Playing games, even if it is against one another, helps hold teammates more accountable. Even when games are “friendly” any athlete will tell you that there is a big difference between competing and daily workouts. On multiple occasions this fall, I saw our students competing hard and inspiring others to do the same. For this alone, we can be grateful for the opportunity to have engaged in the Green and White games this fall!
There are five really good things that come with competition:
- It keeps a player motivated – having a competitive nature prevents complacency and settling. Motivation helps people improve!
- Competitions generate more clarity – by staying competitive players set new targets and goals and consequently do things that will cause them to achieve progress.
- Playing games will inspire greater creativity – when players want to do better they will need to be better problem-solvers. Wanting to do better comes from seeing opponent’s superior skills.
- Competing causes players to do more self-reflecting. If we are competitive we’ll be driven to do things better, which means we have to take the time to evaluate our own strengths and weaknesses. To want to improve means you have identified things to work on.
- Finally, playing games allows leaders to lead, develop new beliefs, and all players can contribute to something bigger than just themselves.
It never mattered which team won this fall. In fact, the standings were incredibly close throughout the shortened season. The white teams won the overall standings, but Big Green roared back and won Green and White Day. There were a few afternoons this past season where if you closed your eyes, felt the warm sun on your face, heard the referee’s whistles and the chatter on the playing fields, it felt like all was right in the world. This too is another good reason why we play the Green and White games!