Tag: Rules

Bending the Rules – The Importance of Starting Fresh

silhouettes of golfers

Golf swings | Image PublicDomainPictures.net

If you spend any time around young children you know how fiercely they cling to the idea of getting a “do-over.” It’s one of the fundamentals of play – you practice, experiment, repeat until you master the game.

Getting a “do-over” means that you get to start fresh. In golf it’s called a Mulligan – a chance to re-play a particularly awful shot. While some consider it cheating, the Mulligan or the do-over are excellent ways to keep a game balanced when you have players of varying skill levels. Like the handicap – strokes subtracted from a player’s score – judicious use of the do-over helps level the playing field a bit.

You can probably connect the dots here and see how this is leading to a discussion about God’s grace. ¬†While there are some important differences between the Biblical doctrine of grace and a “Mulligan” there are some similarities. Teenagers in particular need adults and their peers to give them a do-over now and then. Developmentally they are wired to experiment and try new things. Naturally they are going to fail and sometimes they might even screw-up big time.

Being part of an active youth group is a great way to help kids get a do-over. It might be the one place they can turn to after making a poor choice (friends, drugs, hair color) and know that they can re-set and start fresh. God’s grace is what gives us the power to give some kids a Mulligan time after time.

So let’s here it for the “do-over”, for bending the rules and for second chances. In the long run it makes the game a lot more fun.

Calvinball: Playing by the Rules

Bartel lays out the “unofficial official rules” for Calvinball, a game characterized by mayhem and nonsense. Those of you familiar with Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin and Hobbes will recognize that Calvinball is a free-for-all where the rules change on the whim of the player who has the upper hand.

The interesting thing about games is that you need rules for the play to be enjoyable. But the rules should have some flexibility – consider how a golf handicap makes it possible for players with different levels of skill to play together.

We’ve played a modified version of Calvinball with our youthgroup. It’s a lot of fun to play once in a while. To keep the game engaging we played it like this: the game starts off with the same rules as half-court basketball. At any time the player in possession of the ball my change one rule. Typically the game morphs into something like soccer or dodgeball.

The rules layed out on bartel.org imply that anyone within a Zone can call a rule-change at any time. The zones can be changed but there must remain zones on the field in order to play.

It’s a fun and worthy way to kill an afternoon. But be prepared to play a classic game of stickball if your group isn’t energized by a game with ultimate flexibility.