Play: A Serious Business

A former England cricket captain rethinks play.

Here are two quotes: "Nothing in cricket has the slightest importance when set against a single death from violence in Northern Ireland." And, second: ''Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." The first was said by iconic cricket commentator, John Arlott; the second, by Bill Shankley, the charismatic manager of Liverpool Football Club. What are we to make of this apparent conflict?

Play is part of living; death is the interruption of living. Of course we stop things for death, crisis, tragedy, disaster or loss. But play is central, not only to living from moment to moment, but to our sense of life, creativity and the development of skills. Play is equally related to work – it’s often serious and usually relates to how we interact with others, as well as to our inner sense of being.

There is much overlap in organised sport and creative play, thou

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