Experience common to us all seems to confirm that in any kind of competition, once the score is kept (i.e. the measure of who is winning), a sub-conscious decision is made by participants that enjoyment can no longer be the priority i.e. the criteria for achieving success is changed. While they will still tell you they want the experience to be enjoyable, their focus shifts, their intentions alter and the vibe on the field or court feels very different indeed. For example, have you noticed how attitudes and tactics transform as soon as the recreational tennis outing changes from “having a few hits” to “playing a game”? You no longer purposely hit the ball so your opponent can get it back; They have to lose in order for you to win; there is no longer any concept of sharing the game on equal terms. The source of “fun” in this situation very clearly moves from playing to winning and anyone still wanting to just play when the shift is introduced soon storms off, no longer finding anything enjoyable in the experience.

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