Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Why Rules?
AJ Robinson

It might seem like an obvious question; after all, we have to have rules in sports, don't we? We need to know how to score points, what players can and can't do and what the consequences are for not following those rules. Yet, is that enough reasons? Now sure, in professional sports, a lot of money can be riding on a game; so it's reasonable that rules are needed. On the other hand, what about some people just playing around; do they really need all of the rules for a fun game?

I remember as a kid, playing various sports with the grownups at a family get-together or church or social function. Many times, it was very confusing for me. I'd be on base (in baseball), someone would get a hit - a pop fly - and I'd run to the next base and be safe. Someone would catch the ball, throw it to the person covering the base I'd been on and I'd be out. It didn't make sense; I'd made it safely to the base, so how could I be out?

It was one of the rules, which they'd neglected to tell me.

It all seemed very silly to me; people seemed more concerned about some silly rules than just playing a game and having fun. Yet, everyone said, those are the rules of the game, and you have to play by the rules.

Over the years, I came to understand how some rules, a few very basic rules, make sport and life more rewarding. My friends and I played a game we called Speedball. To be honest, I don't recall how we came up with the name; I think it had to do with the fact that we played the game with great speed - we rarely slowed down or stopped. The game had virtually no rules; we'd invested it specifically for that reason - we did not want to get bogged down in a lot of silly rules. We just wanted to run around and play ball.

Originally, it had no rules whatsoever! A player could dribble a ball, carry it, kick and do any combination of those moves. He could dribble, stop, carry the ball, dribble some more, and then kick it to someone. There was no "double dribble" rule, no "off sides" or anything else - it was just fun, fun-fun and go, go-go!

Yet, over time, we began to see the need for even a few basic ones. If all the players could go anywhere on the field, then we tended to bunch up around the ball. This made play tough; the best or merely biggest players always pushed the others out of the way, and it was tough to move the ball around the field. So, we added the concept of zones - areas of the field where certain players would be restricted to: the front row was in the front third, the middle row in the center third, and the back row in the back third, with a little overlap to each. We also had a rule about being excessively violent. We thought it would be obvious that you shouldn't just rip the ball out of someone's hands or shove them so hard that they fell down, or hit them hard enough to hurt them, but that wasn't the case. Some of the boys would invariably get too rough.

Oh, and we also went ahead and added a rule about no shooting, stabbing, maiming or killing another player; just to be on the safe side.

After that, the game really became quite fun.

Now, today, I see the value of rules - even a few of them. It makes me wonder, if we need rules for a sport, shouldn't rules also apply to business? Now, some people might look at what I've written here and argue that I'm advocating for as few rules as possible, which is quite correct - I am. Yet, the important point is: there must be at least some rules! More importantly, they need to be reasonable, and they need to insure that everyone is safe.

When it comes to our banking system, do I think there should be few rules? Yes, but as with Speedball, there need to be enough rules to insure everyone is safe. Were things like that during the first decade of 2000? Ask the people who lost their jobs and/or homes if they got hurt, if they're in pain, and you'll get your answer.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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