By Peyton Carter ’23 (DCI Fellow)
This semester for the DCI, a lot of focus and time has been spent on figuring out what each of us fellows will do for our personal Deliberation Projects. The goal of these Deliberation Projects is to “enable Fellows to organize, host, and facilitate a deliberative event that connects to their personal interests…and builds Fellows’ capacity to conduct deliberative activities after they have completed the DCI Fellowship program.” After hearing this objective, it did not take long for me to figure out what personal interest I wanted to connect the DCI with – sports.
Sports, specifically basketball, have been a major part of my life from the age of 6 up until now at 22 years old. I have been on plenty of different teams with different coaches through these years, which has resulted in me experiencing a lot of different team dynamics. When I sat down to think about how deliberation and these past basketball team experiences could connect, it seemed clear. Teams get into heated debates and arguments all the time.
It is only natural when you have a large group of people giving their best competitive efforts to work toward a common goal that not everyone will agree on how it should be done. Tensions are bound to arise, and disagreements break out. My idea was that if deliberation is something that becomes incorporated into sports and teams, it would help to resolve many issues that tend to fester both on and off the court (or the field) for the duration of a season.
Ultimately, I decided to go to different sports teams on Davidson’s campus and speak to them about what deliberation is, and how it can be used on their teams to create a respectful environment where issues can be talked about in a respectful manner and resolved, instead of just letting them linger and fester. This decision, however, has also made me think about the benefits of deliberation in all areas of life, beyond sports, and beyond only D Teams and Deliberative Forums.
Deliberation can be used on so many occasions. If we think about it, we probably deliberate every day, although perhaps not always that productively. It may just be a small conversation in passing or a 10-minute “battle” on what the greatest television show of all time is. Just like people, deliberation comes in all shapes and sizes. My hope after completing the plan for my project is that people all over will begin to learn what it means to deliberate, and deliberate well, when it is appropriate. In our world today, much conversation that involves two people on opposing sides produces a disagreement, which then results in an unproductive argument.
People tend to value the positives and respectfulness of deliberation in their daily lives more and more often now than ever before. In our last DCI forum about social media and how we should be dealing with it, the members of my deliberation group during the second part of the event echoed these sentiments. In our group, there were two students, including myself, and three adults who each had children around my age.
As we were wrapping up our discussion, they told me and the other student how special this conversation was and how grateful they were to be there. Above all, they were just happy and relieved to be able to disagree with someone about a topic and not break out into a fight with them, but instead have just a simple conversation. No one was trying to win or make sure that they had the last and loudest word. They each said they miss when they used to be able to do this all the time with people many years ago, but not any longer – until coming to the forum and deliberating with us, together.