Unfair Volleyball

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Unfair Volleyball
Topic Fairness, Attitude
Group Size 1-10
Prep Time 0-20 min
Setting volleyball court
Age Group Any
The Point Life isn't always fair, but our attitude still matters

Back to Experiential Learning

Supplies Needed

volleyball Court including:

  • net
  • volleyball
  • boundary markers
  • suitable prize for the winner

How to Set Up

depending on your groups athletic ability and the facilities you have available, you can mark out and set up a traditional volleyball court. If you're playing with a kids group or un-athletic group a fun alteration is to use a beach ball which slows the game down and makes it easier.

Divide into relatively balanced teams. Sometimes it helps the experience if you put the people that are really vocal and opinionated on one team. At this point you or your referee must pick a "chosen team" that will lose the game. I like to make the "chosen team" the one with the most vocal, opinionated people in my group.

Explain the rules of volleyball and tell them the score you intend to play to (like 21). Reinforce that the calls the referee makes are final. Then offer up the prize for the winning team.

What Happens Then

Play the game but with a twist. Begin to start making unfair calls that specifically benefit 1 team. Make sure that it is really subtle at first. For instance if it is a really close call of being in or out of bounds call it against the "chosen team." As the game progresses the referee can get a little more blatantly unfair in his/her calls. Towards the end of the game it should be obvious that the referee is not calling a fair game, but it's best if it's not obvious that the unfairness is intentional. What I mean is the "chosen team" should be upset about the calls, but they shouldn't know that you are doing it on purpose.

When the game reaches it's set end score, give the prize to the winning team. Then talk about how they felt about the game (this is the interesting part). Let them vent (make sure that it's appropriately done) for a while. Ask both teams questions like:

  • Why did you think the game was unfair?
  • How did it make you feel to have an unfair game?
  • For the winning team, how did it feel to realize you were not really winning on your own abilities?
  • For the Losing team, did you want to quit, yell at the referee, etc?

After a little discussion, if they haven't already figured it out, it is best to confess the intentional bad calls. Then I like to talk about Job and his frustrations. Job 21 or 23:1-7, and discuss the unfairness of life. How should we deal with it? How does it affect our relationship with God?

Possible Problems

The biggest concern is anger. This experiential lesson can work too well for some groups. Any age group of people (especially adults) can get very frustrated, very quickly. Competitive people will tend to take out their frustration with the game not only on the referee, but on teammates and opposing players as well. This lashing out cannot be allowed. If it's 1 or 2 people I like to talk to them or bench them depending on the circumstance. If it gets bigger than 1 or 2 people, it might be beneficial to end the game early and avoid bloodshed. The goal is to get them frustrated and upset not completely hopping mad.

There are also the normal safety concerns with this game. Make sure that there are no objects that can be run into by on over zealous player. Sometimes it's a good idea to pad the volleyball net polls.

Also I have an outdoor sand volleyball court and go through the sand to make sure that if they play barefoot that they wont be injured by glass, wood, rocks etc

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