The Business of Play

Why Play?

Play is fun. And if you’re having fun, you’re not stressed out. This first attribute of play is perhaps the most simple as well as the most obvious. The more you can play in whatever you do, the more fun you are going to have.

Play encourages physical activity and health. Tell someone to run for a mile, and only the more disciplined or driven among us will do it. Play a game of soccer or start running through the woods for fun, and you might find yourself surprised to see that some of us who “don’t really like running” have ran for three miles. Play puts the focus of physical activity on fun instead of work. You’re not being active to accomplish being healthier, you’re being active because it’s fun, therefore even if you’ve done enough to where you feel amply healthy, you will keep going simply for the joy of it.

Play encourages learning. Driven by fun, play is a form of interaction. Interaction always facilitates learning. If playing with others, we learn more about socializing. If playing sports, we learn more about body mechanics as well as possibly teamwork. A child playing in the dirt will learn more about soil consistency, plants, and the kinds of critters that live there. Even if they don’t get all terminology that goes with such things, they will have a better reference point for deepening their understanding if that happens. They know what the soil feels like, what the plants look like; they see ants scurrying about the ground and recognize that they live in holes. It helps foster fascination with things and thereby drives the natural curiosity to find out more. Climbers learn about differences in rock, surfers learn about the tides and the ocean.

Play keeps us together. Creating a context for positive shared experiences, it’s a major part of how we get to know each other and how we create and nurture bonds. It often provides a structure for us to get social interaction and physical contact, two things necessary for healthy human development and living. Even if done solitarily, it still has the ability to create shared experiences in which we can relate. Fishing can be a solo activity, yet when fishers are together, they often talk about fishing even if they’re not doing that activity at the moment.

Play helps us in our search for meaning. Bringing all these elements together; fun, physical activity, learning, and social bonds, Play is a major part of life and how we relate to the world. Being that it is a tool for learning and enjoying the world, it is something that should be acknowledged, fostered, and practiced. At times it seems that it may even be considered more a part of the end than the means.


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