On the way home from my nephew’s baseball game [Proud Aunt alert: He hit a homerun!], DH2U and I were discussing the various games we played in elementary school. I can’t hit, catch or throw, so most organized athletics were miserable for me. DH2U was mentioning all sorts of games they made up, most of which involved pegging people with balls of various sizes, and it sounded horrible. I had some major cognitive dissonance going on as he lit up recounting the memories.
I did have a great flashback to a day in junior high (Wow! I have a positive memory from those 2 years!). I was chosen as a team captain for Capture the Flag. Basically, it is a stupid game that ends when a member of the opposing team crosses over to the other side, grabs the flag, and returns to their own side without having been touched.
Once selected to be team captain, my job was to pick my team. I had a plan. I chose my best friend first. As she got up to me, she groaned, “I’m so tired of losing!”
I picked another friend when my turn came up again. She groaned again. (Did I mention that none of my friends were athletically inclined?)
“You won’t lose.”
“Look at these teams, how can we win?”
“Oh no, we won’t win, but I promise we won’t lose.”
Intrigued, she left me alone as all my friends, normally the last ones chosen, were the early ones picked.
Once our teams were decided, we set off into the field. We all huddled up around the flag, and I told them my plan. They understood and agreed.
The whistle indicated start of play, and the other team sent out half their members to capture our flag. We took hands and formed a circle around it. The opposing team members had no way to capture our flag without being ruled out.
We did not lose!
The coach came over all furious saying that we refused to play and threatening our grade. While I would never dream of standing up for myself to a teacher (especially not with a grade on the line!), one of my friends had no such qualms and asked, “Given these two teams, would the game have lasted much longer anyway?”
He looked around at the teams, shook his head, sighed deeply, and created new teams himself, which he did for the rest of the semester. He also changed the rules so that my strategy couldn’t be repeated.
Still, it was a moral victory for us. We could all proudly say we weren’t on the losing team, and we weren’t chosen last!
I was reminded of this again when I saw the Startrek:The Next Generation episode called Peak Performance, where Data learns that it is possible to lose even without making a mistake. He ends up frustrating a competitor in a strategic game rematch by not playing to win, but rather playing not to lose. (And no, this isn’t from memory! I had help from my friend Google and this fabulously geeky site) Once again I patted myself on the back, this time for coming up with the same strategy as Data!
What were some of your childhood triumphs? Does anyone have pleasant memories of junior high? Or what is your favorite Star Trek episode (any series)?