No Art: No Heart?

Japan's leading psychology department has announced a new theory concerning children and sports. It has been theorised that children who spend the majority of their time participating is sports teams, such as tennis, soccer etc, are missing out on valuable time they could be spending in the arts.

"Creative activities," one of the leading psychologists in the project insists, "are crucial in the raising of a stable child, providing relaxation, self realisation, creative thought and chances to spend quiet time with their family or peers. Our studies show that children, boys in particular, that spend no time focusing on the arts are considerably more likely to become aggressive and violent. Those in sports teams even more so."

"Of course, frequent physical activity has many beneficial effects for children, including teamwork, fitness and a broader social network, but those focused exclusively on sporting activities may start showing negative effects-it's all about getting the right balance."

"Aggressive? Us?" Eiji said blankly when coach Ryuzaki stopped reading the article. It certainly hadn't been what the Seigaku regulars had expected when the coach asked them to stay behind for a while after training.

"Yes, aggressive, you. And many of the other teams in the area. It's caused a lot of upset, but this article does make sense."

"We all know who it refers to in our team…" Momo smirked, giving Kaidoh a smirk the latter unfortunately noticed.

"You mean me?"

"Who else?"

"I'll make you eat those words!"

"Stop it!" Coach Ryuzaki barked, causing the two eighth graders to freeze mid-punch, "This is exactly what it refers to, both of you! Now, who here has any creative hobbies at all?"

Fuji smiled-well, a little more than always-and raised a hand "I like photography"

"And look how calm he is!" Eiji grinned, "Maybe this article has something to it after all!"

"Thank you" a light, feminine voice came from somewhere around the door. A tall, unfamiliar woman walked into the center of the discussion and gently removed Kaidoh's hand from Momo's shoulder and straightened his bandana. "For complimenting my article. Yuriko Makoto, child psychology department. My colleagues and I were just dropping by the area to make sure the article was getting around. Oh, also, I have a little present for you" Yuriko handed coach Ryuzaki an envelope "Just to get you started, bye bye!"

As quickly as she had arrived, the strange woman left. Coach Ryuzaki passed the envelope to Tezuka and left too, to find out just how that woman had managed to get into the school in the first place. Tezuka opened the envelope. A laminated sheet and nine small folded pieces of paper fell out. He picked up the laminated sheet.

"Each of the nine folded pieces of paper has a word written on it," he read, "this is a 'trigger word'. Using your trigger word, you must write your thoughts relating to that word. It could be someone you know, what that word means to you, an anecdote, anything to get you thinking. Trigger words should be assigned randomly to provide opportunity for maximum effort."

"Maximum effort?" Oishi pondered aloud.

"Yes, say someone who is drawn to happy things picks a depressing word. They would have to think much harder about their writing"

"Aah, I understand. So how do we assign the trigger words?"

"I propose we each pick one up, in alphabetical order" Fuji suggested calmly "They're folded, so there's no telling who will get what. Buchou, that would make you last. You don't mind, do you?"

"No, that means Echizen picks first. Come on."

Ryoma, who had been sat on a bench seemingly ignoring everyone the entire time, stood and picked up the folded piece of paper closest to his foot. He unfolded it, cocked a brow and returned to the bench.

Fuji studied the eight pieces of paper carefully before he decided on the one furthest away from him, just to be different. He opened it. "Aah," he smiled "This could be interesting"

Inui was next to choose, taking a piece from the middle of the selection on the floor. He muttered "Probability of this being very difficult…98.32 percent…"

Kaidoh picked up the piece of paper to the right of the one Inui had taken. Opening it, he blushed furiously. "Fushuuuuuuuu……"

Kawamura took the piece he could reach first and opened it without any particular reaction.

Eiji giggled, very excited about the whole process. He closed his eyes and waved his arm about for a moment before grabbing the first random piece of paper he felt. He beamed and punched the air as he returned to his seat.

Next person to choose was Momo, who took the paper furthest to the left. He paused as he read it, but didn't say anything.

Oishi was the last person to choose, since Tezuka would take the trigger word left over. He took the paper on the right in his right hand, and the last one in his left. He handed the latter to Tezuka. "Good luck" he smiled. The two of them opened their papers. Oishi blinked a few times before putting the paper in his pocket. Being his usual emotionless self, Tezuka gave no indication of his feelings towards his trigger word at all. He referred back to the original laminated sheet.

"It says here that all pieces of writing must be finished and put in this envelope by Monday"

"Why?!" Momo groaned "It's Friday today! This will take me like three weeks to do!"

"Also, why does it need to be returned? Are they being marked like a class project, or used for more psychology studies?"

"Perhaps that woman is coming back" Ryoma mumbled from the bench on the far side of the room, scratching his head and wondering what on earth he was going to write for such a word.

"She is going to use them for more studies!" gasped Eiji "Miss Yuriko's probably going to probe our brains or something!"

"Don't be silly. Now, the paper says to be completely honest in your writing and don't be afraid that something isn't suitable to be put in. This is your writing and you should make like you are the only person who will ever read it-even though she's probably going to be reading it, don't think about that. We'd better get going; we only have to days to do this." Everyone nodded in agreement and, taking up their things, made their ways home. It was nine very confused regulars who passed through Seishun Gakuen's gates that evening.


"-on Earth-"

"-am I supposed-"

"-to write-"

"-anything about this crazy word?"