Reference: Justen O’Connor, Laura Alfrey & Dawn Penney (2022). Rethinking the classification of games and sports in physical education: a response to changes in sport and participation, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2022.2061938
The abstract and section headings: The paper sets out to rethink the four classifications of games (target, net/wall, striking/fielding, and invasion) and propose that a wider range of forms of sport should be considered in physical education. These five new forms should consider both the social, environmental, and affective dimensions of learning. The five new forms proposed are lap or circuit, route or journey, rush or action, stunts or tricks, and rhythmic sports.
Introduction and conclusion: The authors set out to reshape the classifications of games and extend possibilities for teaching and learning in physical education. They argue that the current classification of four game types (target, net/wall, striking/fielding, and invasion) have dominated PE and weaken the possibilities for pedagogy in the subject. Whilst the four classifications have provided common elements for teaching and learning they have also constrained physical education. With the changes inherent in the sports that adults and young people now play there is a need to disrupt the classification and offer everyone a chance to reconsider what physical education is and does. They conclude by suggesting that lap, route, rush, stunt, and rhythmic sports expand the existing categorisation into sports and activities more in keeping with the sports that pre-teens and adults play. This change also allows us to reconsider of the tactics require to participate in different forms of sport in physical education.
Tables and diagrams: The tables show the differences between traditional sports and the percentage of people who still play these in adulthood. In doing so they represent the established message about the disconnect between physical education and wider sports participation. The most useful table (table 4) shows the results of the authors’ conceptualisation of games and presents the new categories mentioned above. Table 5 provides examples of tactical questions and tactical ends that might arise from the expanded nine categories of games. A resource of great benefit to teachers and academics alike.
The point of the paper: The paper aims to show how times have changed and provide concrete examples of those changes. The five categories, and the tactics provided, ‘open up’ the teaching of physical education in ways that haven’t, to date, been common. The paper challenges the established ways of physical education and offers broader alternatives through which to conceptualise the subject in schools. This paper could serve as a springboard to pedagogical and curricular change in different departments and in many different ways.
The main arguments: That we have thought in the same way for too long. Participation and interest have changed and physical education hasn’t. It is important that we challenge the status quo and consider what is prevalent and relevant in the 21st century. It is too easy to maintain the equilibrium but it doesn’t reflect what is happening in sport around the globe. Only by stopping and thinking about why these classifications have endured, and why we have bought into them so readily, can we begin to question their undisputed place in our subject.
The importance of this paper: This paper is a great importance as we, as a profession, try to move away from the multi-activity approach and physical education-as-sport-techniques. By considering more categories and articulating not only a need for tactics but also the types of tactics and outcomes that could result from using, these approaches we are taking a big step forward for the field and the teaching of games.
The paper’s contribution to my knowledge: I was happy and content with four categories and they served my purposes. I hadn’t chosen to challenge them but in reading the paper I am convinced by the authors’ arguments. This helps me to challenge my own preconceptions and find new ways of thinking and doing.
Summary of the paper in one, two or three sentences: While the four categories of games in physical education are useful and have led to some joined up thinking, they aren’t representative of current thinking. As such we need to open the door to other ideas and help teachers to think differently about the tactics and learning aspirations that might result from these additional categories. By looking at an additional five new categories (lap or circuit, route or journey, rush or action, stunts or tricks and rhythmic sports) we can widen the scope of PE and hopefully include more young people in physical education.
To the Authors: I would welcome a response to this blog. If you wish to write a response to be published on PEPRN, please email me – A.J.B.Casey@lboro.ac.uk with the final text.
About the 'Twenty 20 Vision' Blog: For many years I wrote a weekly blog. In fact, between 2011 and 2021 I accumulated a catalogue of more than 450 blogs. But then I hit a wall. I simply ran out of energy and time. Consequently, 2022 wasn’t a great year for PEPRN. Following a modernization of the blog by Phlite (thanks), and recognising my enduring desire that this break be a blip and not an end, I’m back with a new format and renewed ambition.
During 2022 I acknowledged that I needed to run PEPRN differently and over time the idea of a “Twenty 20 vision” blog emerged. This was, in part, in tribute to T20 cricket (which I love) and 20/20 vision (which I used to have) and in part due to the recognition that PEPRN needed to be easier to write and therefore sustain.
The idea, therefore, is for me to read a paper in no more than twenty minutes using an approach I’ve often recommended to my students but never actually done myself. For each paper I will do a shallow dive, reading only (a) the abstract and section headings, (b) the introduction and conclusion, and (c) the tables and diagrams. All other writing will be ignored. With this information to hand, I will then write the blog in no more than 20 minutes (thus twenty 20) using the eight headers above. Whatever emerges will then be published (after a little editing because I make a lot of grammatical errors typing that fast). The aim is to make paper reading and blog writing manageable once again whilst maintaining the integrity and usefulness of PEPRN. I hope I have achieved this, but feedback is welcomed and invited. Please let me know how I can get better at this and how the blog can better serve the community.