Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yesterday the whole college packed up shop and took half a day to support our volleyball teams at the Schools finals. It was the first time in many years that both the boys' and girls' teams qualified and we were quite hyper about that.

At the girl's finals, we sardined out half the TP Sports Hall, while JJ stuffed themselves into the other half. Our opponent's supporters were um... interesting to observe. They were fully into their cheering, coordinated in both voice and movement, and loudly in unison. Their leader was a rather large individual who would not have looked out of place if he wore an animal mascot's costume, a racoon, say, or a rhino. He moved, they followed; he bellowed, they roared as one. Many of our staff were very impressed with their spirit, and indeed, watching them was far more entertaining than watching the game.

What does it take to build such pride in one's organisation? I think it comes when all members equally suffer personal humiliation to such an extent that each individual is glad to pin one's pride on a collective identity instead.

Cheers are embarrassing. They have inane 'lyrics,' the most basic of nursery-style rhymes, and when you shout them out with gestures and other unnatural body movements, other people look at you funny. No individual would dream of exhibiting such behaviour amongst a polite audience, especially if the individual is a hip, cool teenager with a shred of dignity. That is, I repeat, if the teenager is an individual in a crowd of other hip, cool teenagers.

So, personal pride gets in the way of a collective spirit. Take away that pride and then perhaps the group identity becomes all that more important. Cheering, singing, dancing, united teenagers lending full encouragement and focus to their winning team. Yes, our college could not get past their very simple tactic of return-the-ball-no-matter-what and in a contest of not skill but will, we lost the battle 3-2. Our v-ball girls' are runners-up this year.

Our boys' didn't have too much trouble with their opponents, though. A straight 3-0 victory against TJ in a more aggressive match than the girls' game was. Well, maybe not as aggressive as the women's Olympic Beach V-ball matches, and a whole lot less eye-candy, but we won.

After the prize presentation, we filed out of the sports hall. JJ continued cheering as we left. No doubt they would lock up the place when they're done.

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