In Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Card depicts a game in which two teams of forty-one children each compete in a futuristic anti-gravity chamber. In this chamber, dubbed the “battle room,” children equipped with fake guns that emit beams of light mock battle each other until the complete “destruction” of the other team. They accomplish this using special suits that stiffen and freeze up when a child aims their light gun at it. Various obstructions exist in and about the chamber, and the teams—made up of four ten-child squads and a commander—employ various military tactics to achieve victory. Through it all, they learn teamwork and chain of command, developing respect and camaraderie with one another.
Although the above situation is a fictional one set in the future, the ideals it teaches are just as important now as it is then. It is important to respect one another and to know when to lead and when to follow. We have plenty of team activities in our present that teach the same things, and parents should encourage their children to participate in something. Do not be that parent who forces them to play football, instead, encourage them to pick from many of the things available. They will need to interact with others in their future life, and it is important they learn how early.
Using the above futuristic example of mock combat, organized laser tag immediately comes to mind. Paint ball is another example that is probably closer to the battle room; in laser tag, one needs to aim and hit special sensors, whereas a paintball can land on any part of the body. Taking your child to the laser tag pits or paintball fields is not necessarily enough, there needs to be an organized structure: tournament play, for example. Learn, and then teach, vital techniques and strategies to play and win.
Conventional team sports do a lot of the same thing, though it is more impressed in society than paintball: there is a knowledge and expectation of basketball or football players even before setting foot in a locker room. There are no famed paintball players or laser tag champions, and the strategies learned will be different and less inclined to be judged socially than conventional sports. For example, every sport team has a hotshot player who is considered the best, and the others seem to fade away in importance. In paintball, the stress on team play and lack of social standards make each player closer to an equal part of the team.