A comparison of play-like sport and duty-like sport

What is a sport? In the most basic words possible, this question can be answered like – a sport is a goal-oriented physical activity, where certain motor skills of people are tested. Keeping this definition in mind, sport can further be divided into two types – play-like and duty-like. In this blog post, our aim is to study the differences or the comparison of Play-Like sport and Duty-Like sport.


One of the most basic differences between the two kinds of sport is that the tendency to engage in play-like sport comes intrinsically, whereas duty-like sport is a result of force or obligation. It is a common belief that humans tend to not find joy or pleasure in activities that have been forced on to them. If people find the will and determination to engage in a sport, chances are that they really enjoy the process, not just the act of achieving a goal. Whereas, when it comes to duty-like sport, individuals just aim at getting done with the game as an obligation. This kind of play is most common in schools and other educational and reforming institutes. While the intent behind introducing sports in the curriculum is great, as it is common knowledge that playing sports help in developing great eye-hand coordination and polishing motor skills, the actual takeaway from these duty-like sports tends to differ a lot. If the comparison of play-like sport and duty-like sport needs to be summed up in one simple word, I would say that “will” is what is present in play-like sport and lacks in a duty-like sport. In duty-like sport, not only is the sport extremely goal-oriented, which adds a lot of pressure on the participants, but also the actual playing has a motive, and fun and enjoyment is not it. Sure, some players who have to engage in duty-like sport might enjoy it as well, but this percentage is very low, and often depends on the actual predisposition of the individual towards sports in general. Chances are that they really do enjoy the sport and are highly motivated to perform well. But not everyone is successful in striking this balance.


Let’s get one thing straight. Yes, all kinds of sport are goal-oriented. But is that all that one chases? No. When it comes to play-like sport, more than the end outcome, the focus is on the approach, sportsmanship and pure fun, rather than who wins and who loses. The experience, or journey, matters a whole lot more than the end destination. When people engage in this sort of play, not only are they benefiting physically, but also mentally. They tend to be happier (due to the release of endorphins, which occur after any physical activity). Play-like sport helps people engaging in it develop an autotelic attitude, which refers to when an emphasis is paid on the process and not the end results or benefits. This is one attitude that helps individuals become well-rounded beings in life.


Apart from just studying the comparison of play-like sport and duty-like sport, there is also an interesting correlation between the two. An interesting observation is that people can move from duty-like sport to play-like sport since most of us are introduced to sports in school. The initial introduction, however, forced it may be, can result in igniting a spark within children who have an inclination towards physical activity. So it would be unfair to paint duty-like sport in a bad form, for those who wish to transform from this kind of sport to play-like sport can do so easily, by just recognizing their abilities and inclinations and acting upon them effectively.

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