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*I did not take these pictures. I grabbed them off the message board at work.
For most of us in the U.S. or Canada, the thought of an employer sports day is rather odd. Sports day is not the company softball team. It is a mandatory event involving a number of physical activities. There is pressure from all sides to participate. There are enough events that being able to do at least one thing is possible. The emails to sign up were in Korean and so I didn’t know until that day, and to be honest, I was happy about that. Everyone gets a sports outfit, and mine did not fit because I am tall and wide.
For the most part, the sports are separated by gender. Strong gender division is a component of Korean society that is perhaps the most shocking to western women once they arrive. It’s one thing to read about it. It’s entirely different to experience it.
The day started like any other. Worked until lunch, and that’s when ping-pong started!
Once ping-pong was finished, everyone headed down into the parking lot for the rest of the events.
The outside component of the day started with a good game of basketball. Everyone took basketball rather seriously. The testosterone was set to volume eleven. The court was on fire!
The teams are decided based on department. They follow the branches of the organizational chart. I actually don’t know what team my department is on. The information I get about these events come from the people in my office. I only just recently began speaking to people from outside of my office. I am quite sure I am the first full time foreign worker they have had. I am a pioneer. It’s time for the ladies to arm-wrestle!
My director mentioned to me during the day that the events promoted team work and camaraderie. Get the women to bounce a ball on a round piece of plywood hooked up to ropes. The team that bounces the ball the longest wins!
The bouncing took forever, with one team bouncing the ball over a thousand times. The crowd was dying down. The only team banging their booms sticks was the winning one. The laughter had gone. The clouds had come together. It was time to wake up with some jump rope!
That opened the pores. There were a few wipeouts, and the boom sticks were going ape shit. Cheerleading squads that had been formed during the Basketball game mobilized again. It was madness. It was time for the three-stage obstacle course!
It was like clearing GTA: San Andreas. You put in some effort and you win a bike, mp3 player, trip to Jeju Island, Hawaii, cold hard won, or something else. My team leader came up to me right before the ceremony and asked me if I felt lucky. I told him I did not. It was then that he dropped the ‘raffle ticket’ info. He apologized for not telling me, and I assured him that because I had not taken part in any of the activities, it was only just that I did not win a prize. I need a smoke. You need a prize!
Phew! Was it as good for you as it was for me? I’m hungry.
I thought Sports day was a really ridiculous thing to do, but now that I look back it was a lot of fun. As much as I think this sort of thing would not fly at most employers in North America, I do think they are, like my director had stated, good for camaraderie. A coworker told me that events like this happened at most government ministries. These types of events go on at places like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Sport’s day starts in elementary school and continues up through a good number of employers. As much as I went into this day thinking it was funny, I left thinking it was fun.
This article has been viewed 10976 times in the last 7 years
Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 9th Jun 2006 - 15:14 GMT
I love this post. It proves that people will do anything for an iPod.
We have a coffee bar in-house to keep up camaraderie (and to keep us wired). But its really to stop us leaving the building for our only legal fix. I keep a box of coffee beans in my desk to chew so I can work harder without even going to the coffee bar.
befriendly: 13th Jun 2006 - 00:48 GMT
It is a nice series, and very well funded sports day. We never won bikes when I was in primary(elementary) school. I love the look of determination on the arm wrestling lady's face!
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