In yesterday’s post (“NQP Softball Teams Crush the Opposition“), we neglected to highlight the contributions of the Human Resources team. Given their disdain for competition, they chose to support the other NQP departments rather than play in the tournament itself.
Day 1 – On the first day of the three-day tournament, the HR group called all of the departmental teams together for an icebreaker where the players were assigned to small groups. Each group member was asked to share with each other their favorite colors and give the reasons behind their choices. This allowed everyone to see past the differences in their uniforms and playing positions and see each other as individuals who are each valuable in their own unique way. Then in the afternoon session, the same small groups were given a problem-solving exercise involving a 6 foot piece of rope, a concrete block and an apple. The purpose of this exercise was to let everyone see that as an individual they are unable to complete even the simplest task and without the rest of the group they are nothing.
Day 2 – Softball, like most popular sports, is just one manifestation of the overtly sexist power structure in this country and the resulting culture of violence against others that is fostered in an environment of brutal competition. Given this backdrop, the HR group organized a series of sensitivity training sessions that were geared toward improving the environment on the playing field. A few of the key points made during the training are listed here:
- Players will no longer be assigned “errors” as this labeling punishes them unjustly. From this point forward, we will use the term “learning opportunity” in the place of “error”.
- Use of “infield” and “outfield” gives the impression that certain people are “in” while others are “out”. In our new structure, there is no hierarchical distinction based on distance from home plate.
- Similarly, the fixed numbering of the bases implies a class system where some are first and others second or even third. Given that some sequence of bases is needed, future games will be played with base numbers randomly assigned at the start of each inning.
- The naming of the shortstop position was clearly aimed at denigrating people of a diminutive stature. Effective immediately, this position has been eliminated because any continued use of this position would be a constant reminder of our unfortunate past.
- Within our overall goal of sustaining a gender neutral environment, the positions defending each base will be referred to as the “base-person” rather than the sexist “baseman”.
- In a similar quest for gender neutrality, it will no longer be possible to make a base on balls.
Day 3 – On the final day of the tournament, ten percent of the players were asked to report directly to the clubhouse rather than the playing field. In a fifteen minute session with an HR representative, each of these players was told that while the company valued them as an individual and as a team member, based on the overall needs of the team their position was being eliminated. This was the result of a structural decision by the company to streamline operations and did not reflect on the player. On the other hand, if they had fewer “learning opportunities” in their record, the structure might have been changed somewhere else.