Sport, Creativity and the Flop and Failure that Allows Grace to Shine

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Traditional thinking would have us pit sport and art against each other, as polar opposites, with art being seen as cultured, intelligent and creative, and sport as physical, simple, uncultured, competitive and generally artless.

But the more I reflect on my experiences of both, the more I think sport and art are far more closely aligned than we realise. For me sport is about the joy of doing something physical, in a group, that doesn’t feel like hard work because it is in pursuit of a goal. In amongst many moments of falling and failing, are moment of grace and body and yes, art.

All sport, every game, every effort, requires that we embrace failure. Even games where a player has ’the ball on a string’ will inevitably have a some percentage of efforts that fail, where they drop the ball, break the rules, miss completely, lose their balance or are beaten by an opponent. And then there are whole games in the course of a season where a player is the opposite of graceful, capable or contributing.

This embracing of failure is essential not only for sport, but also for creativity.

Sport is an unfolding event that requires impromptu creating and reacting. It is in essence a form of physical improv, and improv is at the heart of creativity. For storytelling, improv is also a key element in the dynamic, unfolding, energetic conversation between the teller and the audience, a real time unfolding, like sport.

Improv, the drama equivalent of sport, is the best tool there is for learning how to follow an impulse to speak, or act, and it is in the act of following the impulse that we see where creativity resides, it is the idea of getting out of our own way, to allow imagination and inspiration, and impulse to surge, and to embrace mistakes and failures, small and large, as the field of earth where brilliance may shine, albeit like a shooting star.

So this open-ended reverie about some connections I see, with no apparent destination and conclusion comes to an end. Maybe I am the only one this makes any sense to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you want to think and learn more about creativity and storytelling, sign up for the next Story Wise Webinar, on Friday 20 April, 1.15pm.