Reflection: Freedom through Play

Reflection by Caitlin Cantwell, Neumann University 2013

“Sport at its best allows us to play.” The PLAY pillar, though last in the sequence, is the only of its kind, by means of a command—play! The English word sport means to carry away—and rightfully so. Too often in everyday life, we are carried elsewhere with more run-of-the-mill, monotonous activities that leave less room for adventure. Why must playing, in general, correlate to childhood or immaturity? I have had better times “playing” as an adult than I had ever imagined possible. The pillar declares that “when we play, we sense no limitations. In fact, when playing, we are usually unaware of ourselves.” Forgetting the things and the people who limit us allows us to reach our full potential. Though this may be particularly biased, the Phillie Phanatic is the perfect advocate for the PLAY pillar! As Philadelphia phans, we take our sports seriously—but we never, ever forget to play.

What is freedom? By definition, freedom is the state of being at liberty rather in confinement or physical constraint. It is also defined as the power to determine action without restraint. As people—and athletes, we are given the ultimate freedom to become all that we can be. The pillar indicates “playfulness is not possible when weighed down with worry” which is a ruling that most athletes can vouch for. When we are free, we play; when we play, we are free. I consider the quote “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” the most significant, thought-provoking quote—not only on this pillar, but that I have ever encountered. I truly believe that a lot can be learned about a person through their athletic alter-ego.

Creativity is a big part of our lives—whether we recognize it or not. As people, we are naturally the most creative and innovative when we are at ease. We reach our “Eureka!” moments through times of pure leisure and playfulness. The most vital aspect of the PLAY pillar is the section on joy. Joy is most deeply felt when preceded by struggle—making victory in sports that much more substantial. The pillar is effortlessly wrapped up with “We see joy in sports in the spontaneous celebrations of touchdowns, game winning shots, and a fan’s reaction to a long awaited victory. Joy is also present in the deep relationships between teammates, achieving your personal best, and accomplishing more than expected.” All in all, the joy reminds us of why we play—and playing reminds us of why we keep coming back for more.