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A Simple Game

By Michael W. All Rights Reserved ©

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Blurb

The referee blows his whistle to initiate the game’s start and the players from both teams spring into action. At first, the game goes according to plan. For three of the four quarters everyone plays by the rules, and things go smoothly. But then, something unexpected happens…

A Simple Game

It’s a simple game…

“Two teams, competing on an even playing field for glory and the rights to desired titles.” Their objective, to place the ball within the opposing team’s net. By accomplishing this simple, yet highly anticipated feat, the team member that scores gains pride for his or her team. They must keep the ball within the lines that define the field’s parameters. They are not allowed to use certain parts of their body while interacting with the ball, and instead must find clever and inventive ways to manipulate the object of interest.

One team wears red jerseys, while the other wears blue. This intentional segregation of color allows those competing and those watching a clear and easy way to differentiate between competitors. Each of the members for the two teams are chosen at random, and don’t always get a say as to what team they will be playing for. However, regardless of their assigned team for this particular match, they respect their placement and do their best to serve their team accordingly.

A referee stands on the sidelines. He watches silently, observing and keeping a close eye to ensure that everyone is playing fairly within the established and agreed upon game parameters. He never interferes unless a dispute arises, or a violation of the game’s rules has been made.

Now that the teams have been chosen and the ball sits center field, the players, boasting their colors, move to the appropriate sides and take up their set positions. Even though they have designated positions, they do not complain, because they are smart enough to know that winning this game will require teamwork. They do the best that they can to cover their position’s rolls, and support their teammates for the greater good. Teammates don’t always get along, but at least for the duration of the game, they do respect one another.

The referee blows his whistle to initiate the game’s start and the players from both teams spring into action. At first, the game goes according to plan. For three of the four quarters everyone plays by the rules, and things go smoothly. But then, something unexpected happens…

One of the players on the red team decides that they no longer want to play for the red team, which, despite the actual score, in their mind is losing the game. Maybe they just don’t like their teammates, or perhaps they have lost respect for themselves? Could it be that they no longer value the rules, which for so many quarters made the game function properly? Whatever their justification, the player, whilst the game rages around them, decides to remove their red jersey and dawns a blue one. They have switched teams.

The red team is somewhat aggravated by their teammate’s decision to leave, but they allow it to slide, considering that losing just one player probably won’t influence the outcome of the match. Even the referee does not seem to have an issue with the player’s choice. It’s not like this is a serious match, it’s just a game after all.

Soon after however, another player from the red team decides to change their jersey to blue. This time, the red team speaks up. They are aggravated that their teammates who’ve left believe that they have the right to simply change colors in the middle of the game. The game is now too unbalanced and no longer fair. The blue team is also speaking up, just one extra player they could accommodate for, but now two? They don’t have positions for so many extra players, and the unwelcomed addition has completely thrown off their strategy.

Both teams send a representative to speak with the referee, whilst they continue to play. The two chosen representatives meet with the ref and discuss the issue at hand. Each red and blue hold their own opinions and positions on why they are dissatisfied by the change in teammates, but they argue the same overall point. This alteration is breaking the game’s balance.

The Referee, a strong advocate of the rules, determines they are correct. This has gone too far and must be stopped at once before impending chaos ensues. He stops the game and proposes that the teammates from red that have left to join blue be forced to rejoin red and denounce the blue team. The players who would be affected by the change, despite being few compared to the many others in accordance with the ruling, find that their liberties and freedoms are being assaulted. They refuse to comply and instead turn to the crowd for support.

The somewhat uneducated crowd, possessing only the minimal understandings of the game’s rules and logic, see that these few players are being treated unfairly and their liberties are being stepped upon. The crowd by the masses boos the ref mercilessly.

The ref tries to explain the rules to the crowd in a calm and logical manor. He lays out the groundwork for a solid and well-conceived, rational argument, stating facts and guidelines straight from the handbook to support his claims. Despite his efforts, the crowd continues to boo and shame him, calling him tilted, unfair, unjust, bias and other more foul terms. After wasting a sizable amount of time debating the issue instead of playing, the referee is forced into complying with their opinion by overall mass vote. He realizes in this instant that the process which was established to defend liberty and freedom, has been used to undermine his rightful authority by the very people who gave it to him in the first place.

To the player’s dismay, the ref makes the call to side with the crowd and allows the two converted red players to remain on the blue team. As the fourth quarter continues it becomes challenging for the red team to recognize their former players as the opposing team. They see that they are wearing a blue jersey, but in their minds they have already established that these players are destined to be on their team. Seeing them play for the opposing side, especially after they had been assigned to their team, it feels wrong at the deepest most fundamental level. Even so, for the good of the sport, they try their best to accept their former teammate’s decisions and play on.

Things get much worse, much faster as the fourth quarter nears its end. Now, dissatisfied blue players, seeing the opportunity to switch teams, seize the opening. The ref tries to call them out on it, but is again hushed by the masses and those in favor of the change. At least, it will balance out the teams again, right?

If only that were the end of it… Soon, more members are switching teams. Seeing as that no one is able to stop them and that everyone is apparently in support of their choice, players who were not even typically incline to play the other colored team, now switch simply because it has become socially acceptable to do so. Red becomes blue, blue becomes red, goalies change their tactics, entire positions are forfeited or altered beyond recognition, jerseys fly on and off so quickly that almost no one has any idea what is going on any more, who is who and who is playing for what team.

At one point, a blue jersey wearing player, formally a red jersey wearing player, decides that they are going back to the red team, however, they intend to continue to play for the blue team, despite wearing the wrong uniform. A red player, originally from the blue team, removes only the lower half of their uniform and changes it out for a blue jersey. They say that they miss the blue team, but also don’t want to give up the red team. They now play equally for both teams, seemingly at random with no greater preference for either.

The game breaks down into utter chaos, as was foreseen by the wise ref, who tried to prevent this. If only he had not allowed the first player to change their team so easily, maybe he could have averted this utter, confounding disaster!

By the time that the players wearing the purple jerseys show up, no one, not the players, nor the ref, not even the crowd has any idea what is going on… What are the rules, now that so many have been broken? Are there even rules at all anymore? What is the point of this game without the parameters that defined it, and gave it the meaning that drew people to play?

The few players who stayed true to their original determined team color forfeit the game and go elsewhere to play. While the ref sits on the sidelines in hopeless defeat, contemplating to himself “What has this game become?”

… it used to be a simple game.

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