Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ahhhh, tradition

I may have previously mentioned a little trick that I use for my homepage where it is set to bring up a random Wikipedia page each time I open a new window. (If you don't know this little trick, and want to see what I mean, set your homepage as:

Anyway, I learned about the Eton Wall Game today thanks to this little trick.

The Eton Wall Game has some aspects of rugby to it, but the description is such that I couldn't help but wonder whether it was all made-up. Not in the way that everything is made-up, but rather all a lie to catch gullible North Americans out. Despite having Oppidians, a calx, a bully and players trying to score a shy, this would appear to be a real (if somewhat... unique) game.

It is helpful though to remember the numerous times that I've tried to describe baseball to someone who has never seen a game in their life and how "off-the-wall" it sounds. Did I mention the Eton Wall Game includes an old brick wall? Well, it does. In any case, it seems that as humans we develop an understanding with those with whom we have shared experience. Our shared experiences are part of what form our cultural context. Though we all have a shared humanity, the multitude of human experiences ensure that we are bound to find many people in our lives who do not share our frame of reference. That means that we will grow accustomed to many things in our lives (ie. which direction traffic [or even pedestrians] travel on, sports and accepted ways to interact with others) but we're best not to be complacent as there are many more people in the world with a different wealth of experience than there are those that share our perspective.

And so I come back to the wall game. Here a game that most regularly ends in a 0-0 draw with lots of raw elbows (you'll have to read about it to understand) makes perfect sense and plays on the traditions and shared experiences of many. I just so happens that I'm not one of that group. But ask me the rules of baseball and I've got you covered. That is, as long as you don't ask me about the balk rule. I never did get the hang of that.

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