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Kamis, 22 Juli 2010

Sports in the Workplace

"Do you have the killer instinct? No, we are not talking about the Nintendo games..." Those were the opening lines of our notice that announced our sports day. (for the uninformed: 'Killer Instinct' is the name of a Nintendo game). The notice conveyed what it was supposed to; the news of our sports day, sports in the workplace! The news spread speedily and for the rest of the month, the buzzword was 'sports'. It stayed in the air till April 10 - April 10 was Sports Day!

Sports day, it was the long awaited event that had involved a lot of planning and coordination on part of the sports organizing committee. It was the fruit of sincere effort put in by the entire team. Each member of the core group organizing sports, was equally excited about the event, and the group became a team (without having to apply any kind of 'storm-form-norm' theory); a team devoted to make the sports event a success. It was for the first time that we were organizing sports in the workplace! We had so many exciting indoor games on the list, out of which some were short-listed and included in our sports.

The sports list was circulated among the employees and we registered for the sports that we wished to participate in. Popular board games like scrabble and chess were a part of this list. Then there were carom and sudoku. And then there was this much-talked about...table tennis - TT. There were few who participated in any and all of these sports activities irrespective of their expertise, while there were some others who made choices based on their innate talent in a particular sport. Also, some of them participated in a particular game just because someone else did and some because no one else did! Some players were lucky to get byes for random reasons and reached straight to the quarter and semi finals. All in all, it was fun, as every sport received a huge participation. The event brought us closer. We got to know each other better; we discovered the hidden talents in one another and most of all, we got an opportunity to go back to our school days; the days when fights were fun-filled, sports were spirited and there was excitement in chanting each other's names to cheer each other up.

The scene that was a faded memory in most of our minds came into action on the Sports Day (with a capital S and D, the way we wrote in school). People were seen practicing, playing and cheering for their team members. Some were busy building words, some managing armies, some running after the queen and some climbing ladders. I was talking about scrabble, chess, carom and snakes and ladders (respectively). Yes, games like snakes and ladders, ludo, Chinese checkers (here's how to play chinese checkers) and brain vita had made their way into our office. And these games, supposedly meant for kids had kept many of us busy. There were puzzles and brain games to add to the list. Back to our school days that we had gone, we had become kids once again. It's good to be a kid at times; rather it's great to keep that little child within us, awake and alive always. (Alliteration accidental!) The sports day did just that. It awakened the child in each of us; we were spirited, excited and eager to win. Each of us wanted to win.

Win! That child-like 'want' to win fades away with growing age. The happiness in winning remains the same but the excitement in journeying towards victory diminishes. We become less competitive and more comparative. It's not that we don't want to win. But, often we don't want to play. Or, we don't want to lose? But, we got a chance to disprove this by participating generously in all the sports activities. Yeah!

Active participation! That was the motto of the sports event and that's what we had achieved. Most of us participated in at least one sport, some in more. Some organized tournaments, some refereed the matches and some watched the others play. And 'watching' was not a silent-spectator kind of watching. Every sport enjoyed an enthralled audience encouraging and appreciating the players.

One more thing that sports brought about was that we came together, as a team. The sports day was not just another team building activity. It was rather a team-bonding activity! People who communicated with just a hi or hello were hurraying together; and that does make a big difference. (Hello is a greeting, hurray is an exclamation; exclamations have emotions, greetings may or may not.) People who hardly knew each other were playing from the same team and the best of friends were playing against each other. What were they playing? Here's a helicopter view of the matches, one sport at a time.


Winning a scrabble game depends on what tiles you get - your luck, which words you think of from the tiles you get - your vocabulary and when and where you place those words - your strategy. You should know when to encash on the plural forms of words; you should know when to use inflected forms of a word and you should know how to not play an open-ended game. And that's not all. Scrabble is much more than this; it's a wonderful game; you need to play it to know it! Our scrabble finalists, with their clever moves, gave each other a tough competition. They finished with a difference of just one point. Now that's how a scrabble final should have been. If this has inspired you to plan a scrabble tournament in your office, (I suggest, you should think of it, as playing scrabble is an enriching experience), read

* Scrabble Tips
* Scrabble Rules


Chess; it's about how well you plan your moves. A small mistake on your part, and if your opponent catches it, you are gone. You plan all your moves, you miss to recognize your opponent's strategy, he continues building up his army to attack your king and you miss to realize that, you are gone! You work on giving a check to his king, you plan your moves accordingly, but you forget to keep your king safeguarded, your opponent is sure to say "check and mate". (I cannot discourage you more by repeating the line "you are gone".) And remember, you can turn the table over any time; you just need to be watchful about what your opponent is doing, rather not doing. And you can emerge winner. Well, our finalists were excellent chess players. No one would have possibly been able to predict the result till the end of that long-lasting game. If that reminds you of those good old days when you were quite a chess player and if you wish to brush up your chess skills, you must read

* Chess Tricks
* How to Win Chess


There's a grid inside another grid and you are supposed to fill in the nine single-digit numbers in these grids, in such a way that no single row or column has more than one instances of the same number. Obviously it's not as easy as 'filling grids with numbers'. It requires quick thinking and speedy permuting skills. You need to zero in at 'the only position' for every numeral. Our sudoku rounds were indeed interesting. There were some who solved the puzzle; in the words of the organizer; "like a math test; long calculations, a lot of erasing and a black answer sheet", while there were some who solved it in no time; quick calculations, fast thinking, full marks! There were a few who did not use use an eraser at all (I was one of them.) There was no special prize for that! There were some who waited even after the time limit just to complete their sudoku. (There was no special prize for that.) Look at the patience they had! (I was not one of them.) If you are one of those sudoku freaks, read

* Sudoku Tips and Tricks
* How to Solve Sudoku Faster


A smooth biscuit board, a beautiful pink queen guarded by men in black and white, a striker pushing these men towards pockets on the four corners of the board, and those directing the striker to move around, I mean, the carrom players, their fingers crawling all over the board; at times to smoothen the 'playground', at times to to grab the striker, to pocket the little pawns. Well these pawns, or coins are actually called carom-men. And the ruling lady in the scene is but of course, the pretty queen! Now had you heard of this kind of an interpretation of carrom before?! Coming to our carrom tournament, it was nothing less than exciting. We had both singles and doubles; there were players 'helping' each other by drawing each other's coins making dues. The tournament saw some excellent shots, engineering skills at work. By the way, I was part of the carrom doubles and I used to finish every board, an excellent 'finish' each time (my partner took 8 coins and I took the last one, consistently!) Did you laugh? Well, before you think of organizing a carrom tournament in office, you better read about carrom rules and regulations.


This was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyed sport. In table tennis, we had the best buddies playing against each other, in style! Then there was a calm referee, keeping scores and then there was a huge audience cheering even the referee! We even had mixed triples. How innovative that was! (No they were not part of the actual event; it was just a fun thing some of us tried our hand at) The finals (men's, women's singles and doubles) kept us charged up till evening. Wow! Now, if this has inspired you to get a TT table for your office or plan a TT tournament, first read about the table tennis history and facts and then equip yourself with some ping pong tips. Yes, ping pong and table tennis are one and the same.

It was evening. We were happy, hungry, exhausted and a little sad...all at the same time. Sad because the sports day was coming to an end. The enjoyment would soon be over and everyone would have to switch back to work. But there was still something in store for us; the refreshments and the prize distribution ceremony!

Prize Distribution

The prize distribution ceremony had that 'schooly' feel again. We had certificates for all the participants and trophies for winners. It was like we have it in school, certificates signed by the school principal and trophies bearing the school name. Here, the certificates bore our CEO's signature and the trophies had the company name etched on them. I won't describe the design; you might find it somewhere on this page. Where? Well, that's for you to find out! The ceremony was hosted by two very good speakers. In fact, something much better and livelier than this piece of writing was the script of the comperes, well-written and very well presented. It had fun facts about every sport, some interesting anecdotes and the highlights of the sports event.

Our CEO was requested to say a few words and conclude the ceremony. He said, "Winning boosts confidence. And confidence wins. Today you know what it feels to be a winner, don't you?" "Those who won know it well; those who didn't, know it even better!". "No, I won't use the word 'lost'", he added, "you either win or you don't, there's no 'losing' in my dictionary". He further added, "You should want to win and believe that you will. Belief is important; that is what will take you ahead in life. Believe in yourself, and success won't seem far."

By Manali Oak

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