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The current study discusses games within physical education programs as an important tool to promote life skills development (E.g. Communication, cooperation). Through a literature review, a review of historical events and life experiences, an ethnography was done in order to provide a better understanding of the major advantages and difficulties while conducting such approach.
The research analyzed its content based on the concept that games offer a common language that allows the communication among different people regardless their origin, culture, race or history (Freire, 2005). The ping pong tournament that allowed Americans into the Chinese territory in 1971 which was subsequently known as “the ping pong democracy” is a good example to illustrate this point of view.
Sport history is also discussed to provide a context to better understand the potential negative impact of games when competiveness is taken to the extreme. This seems contradictory to Physical Education as an Educational discipline whereby it plays a role to encourage students to think about their own attitudes while engaged in physical activities. For example, the development of life skills through games can be viewed through such an educational lens. Life skills can be viewed along a continuum from an introspective perspective that focuses on self esteem to the promotion of communication and democracy among peers. This presentation discusses the constraints placed upon games and the tension that often exists from an educational perspective of the role that they play within Physical Education to foster the healthy development of groups and individuals.