I’m a pretty big believer that team-building is important in any group that matters. Not necessarily doing corny “fall backwards and I’ll catch you” drills at a camp, but just having a good time with your coworkers and getting to know them. At work we stay late Wednesdays to have a company dinner, which also allows us to leave a bit early on Friday. Wednesday nights look more like a big family at dinner than a company dinner. Rather than timidly fearing committing some sort of faux paus in front of the boss, we’re cracking jokes and talking about each others’ personal lives. The executives consider this time so valuable that the company picks up the dinner, even though they’re paying both for the food and our time as we engage in frivolity. It helps to keep us a very tight-knit team.

We also have a ping-pong table. It’s kind of absurd, really. We’re in a small office, so the ping-pong table is out front. We have a little lobby area with a couch and a few chairs, and then a ping-pong table. (Sometimes this results in important business visitors coming in and nearly being hit by a stray ping-pong ball.) One thing I’ve noticed is that the ping-pong table’s use seems directly proportional to the amount of work we have. On the surface, this seems like a really bad thing: when we should be working the hardest, we play ping-pong the most? But I think it’s actually a good thing. After a couple hours of intense concentration, I find myself somewhat burned out. I can feel my productivity dropping. I look up and find a coworker who doesn’t look immersed in his work, and we put aside our work for 20 minutes or so. While we think we’re just having some fun, I think there’s a good business case to be made for what we’re doing. I know that if I’m really burned out, I have the potential to coast for a couple hours, doing work but not really having the energy to do it really well. But I also know that if I’m really burned out, a couple short but intense games of ping-pong will pick me back up.

So this not-a-news-story article about a basketball game in which Obama and some of his Cabinet faced off against each other brought a smile to my face. Things like this make for outstanding teams. And when you’re playing for fun, playing “against” someone, trash-talking the President or not, you’re really playing with the other team.

The one thing I regret is that it seems to be comprised mostly, if not exclusively, of Democrats. Not that basketball can solve all our problems, but if you get a few Congressional Republicans to play on Team Congress, I really think you’d be laying the seed for a bit of bipartisanship. It’s just a baby-step, surely, but you’d look across the aisle and see a few basketball buddies in a sea of what was formerly “them,” the “opposition.” You’ll be just a bit more willing to step across and try to work something out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *