"I am trying to write a paper..."

  • Posted on: 19 January 2009
  • By: sean

Dear Sean
I am trying to write a paper on promoting four square. The only problem is there is not a lot of resources out on the internet. Could you help me with some of the pro's of playing four square, so far I only have: you can make it your own game, simple instructions, not a lot of materials, any age group, and hand eye coordination? Please help me out. - Susan 1/17/2009

Listen, Susan, promoting four square comes in a ton of different flavors. Especially if you are writing a paper about it then you really have to start at the beginning. Why are you promoting four square, what is the purpose of the promotion? I could, off the top of my head, suggest three excellent angles that you could take or you could mix them up any way you like. They aren't very far off from the pitches that I make on the Squarefour site. These are:

  1. Four Square as Exercise: It's common knowledge that practically any level of activity is good for your body and spirit. There are a lot of folks out there who don't get enough of it as it is. All it takes is 30 minutes of elevated heart rate 3-4 times per week and you are already head and shoulders above the average Amercian couch potato. Four square can do that for you, it can get you active and moving and has the potential to scale so that anyone regardless of athletic ability can get some excercise.
  2. Four Square as Community Building: This is a game that draws people together. The simplicity and low barrier to entry that four square offers really lends itself to playing with wide ranges of people. The revolving door nature of the game mixes players up constantly, forms new alliances between players, gives the players the chance to gang up and defend one another, and even waiting in line is a chance to interact with other players. It's very social but provides structured ways to interact with people that are always changing and makes it an excellent tool for building and strengthening groups.
  3. Four Square as Creative Expression: This game has improvisation as one of it's core elements. It's not like bowling that requires perfect form on each ball toss, and not like volleyball that requires particular ways to hit and return a ball. The rules are so sparse in four square that players are encouraged to make up their own styles and perfect their own way of playing. And an entirely other layer of the game invites kids to make up extra rules, often silly ones, that involve reciting, singing, shouting, dancing, jumping, and more. There aren't a lot of forums where kids can make up silly things to do and its perfectly acceptable to make other kids to do them - and for this reason it's clear that four square has a lot going on for it than just athletics alone.

There are a couple of cons that a good paper on four square should mention (that is if you want the A+ rather than the A-). It's not a sport that is on television so it doesn't get a lot of street cred as "real" athletics and so schools treat it as only a recess game - it has the potential to teach things like strategy, skill, sportsmanship, sharing and caring, and all that jazz. Four square can bring out the worst in kids - the arguing, the fighting, the bad blood - and I think this is due to lack of supervision by adults. Parents and teachers are missing opportunities through their children's play to focus that streak of competition into constructive opportunities for learning and growth. And so it's a shame that this activity can be dominated by a few unchecked aggressive kids, both athletically and socially.

I bet if you mention a couple of these points in your paper you'll do just fine. And if you teacher doesn't like these points then you can give me their number and I'll meet them on the court for a few rounds of squares. Ha, ha, just kidding.

But really, just give me their number.