Win, Lose, or Engage: Exploring the Perspective of Creative Engagement in Team Sports

By Heidi Muller.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 7, 2014 $US5.00

“Win or Go Home!” TNT uses this slogan in its coverage of the NBA playoffs, but the phrase has wide appeal. It reflects a dichotomy between “playing to win” and “just playing.” However, as in most dichotomous situations, a third option is overlooked when focusing on the two. In this case, the third option is that of creative engagement in the game. Engagement is fundamentally different from being goal driven or playing to play: engagement is about creating sport experience through enacting the three p’s of patience, positivity, and possibility. This paper outlines a contrasting perspective centered in mastery and control. It then articulates a basic model of the three p’s where these three are linked in creating moments and experiences within the structure of a game. Creative engagement is examined through analysis of specific sport performances in the 2011 MLB World Series. The practical relevance of this approach for both sport performance and theory are addressed. A connected exploration is undertaken into the potential for participants to jointly accomplish a shared experience where the opponent is negativity. In the final section, the societal applications of this approach are discussed through the lens of softball and baseball as Olympic sports.

Keywords: Goal Orientation, Embodiment, Engagement, Excellence, Education, Practical Wisdom, Optimal Performance, Practical Theorizing, Baseball, Softball, Coaching, Olympics

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, March 2014, pp.63-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 269.883KB)).

Dr. Heidi Muller

Lecturer, School of Communication, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, USA

Heidi Muller is a communication theory scholar who studies communication practices from a language and social interaction perspective. Combining a communication perspective (Ph.D., University of Colorado-Boulder) with a background in education (Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education) and psychology (B.A., Carleton College), her primary research focus is the educational practice of classroom discussion. She also uses the framework of practical theorizing to explore other engaged interactional practices. As part of this line of work, she incorporates her background as an athlete and coach to explore connections between sport, education, art, and society. She is the co-editor of the reader Theorizing Communication: Readings across Traditions and has served as the president of the Rocky Mountain Communication Association. She has been the recipient of RMCA’s Award for Communication Excellence and has received numerous teaching accolades.