Tag, you’re it: a game of friendship

By Samuel Kottoor, Columnist

Three words. Say them and I’m yours: I love you.

Three words. Say them and I’m at high risk for contracting cooties: Tag, you’re it.

(Contractions are technically two words. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.)

College: a place where we must choose between good grades and a social life all while throwing sleep out the window. After four semesters of caring a little too much about grades, I saw personal relationships fade away, friend groups become distanced and stress-burdened library dwellers doing their thing, all for the desire of a sexy decimal after the 3 in our GPA (congrats on your 4.0, losers).

But last semester, I decided to change things up and spend more time with my friends, putting up with the people who put up with me.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

There was one thing in particular that pulled my friends and me closer, even through the stress of finals.

Right after Thanksgiving, my roommates and I decided to start up a game of ongoing tag. The rules? Simple. The apartment was the safe zone: Upon exiting the door, everything was fair game. No immediate tag-backs. Puppy guarding? Honor system. And, if you’ve been “it” for three days, you have to do all the dishes, including the broken glass at the bottom of the pile in the sink.

Just like that, the game began. At one point, a friend chased me around Grainger for 20 minutes while my group from a class worked on our project. I finally evaded him and sprinted into a dark room, where I had my group move into so I wouldn’t be tagged. I have been chased across the Main Quad during rush hour, have hopped off our second-floor balcony in hot pursuit and have been tagged directly after walking out absolutely devastated from a difficult final exam by my roommate who had been waiting for 30 minutes outside for me to finish. Many more fun things have happened throughout the course of this game.

On the surface, this game of tag has been pure fun. Through the midst of finals, it kept our mind off the stress of studying. It has been an absolute blast chasing each other down and poop-talking whoever was “it.”

At a deeper level, though, this child’s game brought us closer together. At that point in the semester, things get so hectic you start to see less and less of your friends. During finals season, people spend all their time at libraries, forget how to smile and have little time to hang out with the people they care for.

Tag did something incredible. It kept us in each other’s lives until the very end, nourishing our friendships.

Tag was a game we used to play during a much simpler time, when we were kiddos with no worries in the world. As numbers were added to our age, our youthfulness drifted away. College stripped us of our innocence.

Children are the happiest people in this world. For this very reason, one of my only principles in life is to never grow up. Adulthood can bring a certain sadness to humans. While it is certainly respectable to work hard and be career-driven, it baffles me why everyone is in such a hurry to act all grown-up and mature.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” I have no idea who George is, but he makes a good point. Tag is more than just a fun little game. It takes off some of the weight the world has put on our heavy hearts.

Start this semester off with a bang. You and your local friend group should start up a game of tag. Relive your days of childhood. Always remember your relationships are more important than any grade, certificate or award.

Last semester, I decided to not focus on my grades as much, but rather spend more time on my relationships. My heart was so much happier in the end. And for the first time, I didn’t tell my parents what my final GPA for the semester was!

Samuel is a junior in Engineering.

[email protected]