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The warfare of contemporaries: sport

Picture this: Meghan Vogel, a teenage athlete, was coming last place in the 3200m finals, when the
runner in front of her collapsed. Instead of continuing on and avoiding the embarrassment of last
place, she stopped. She picked the fallen girl up and she carried her wounded rival the rest of the
race and across the finish line—ahead of herself.

Such sacrifice and character! What a heroic act!


Not according to the original sportsmen.

Sports as we know it chiefly developed in Britain after the industrial revolution. British noblemen
who didn’t have to work occupied their time with games governed by honour. The focus was on fun
and an important differentiation was made between work and play. It was deemed offensive to
want to win. Cheering after a victory and showing disappointment or anger after a defeat was
severely disapproved of. The men aimed to meet each other in the spirit of knighthood: with
“courteous rivalry”. No referee was necessary. We all know this is in sharp contrast with our modern
times where athletes receive awards for not throwing tantrums and kicking their opponents in the
shins. Where did we go wrong?

Perhaps it is not so shocking if we remember that their principles were based on those of the
knights. It shows that sport is rooted into violence and combat.

Anciently, humans had hand-to-hand battles, worked their lands or hunted to let out their physical
aggression, but now we all stay in cramped cities living “civilized” lives. Our urban lives heighten
tension and hostility. Thus violent barbaric instincts are redirected onto the field.

By show of hands, who among you have been in a game that was competitive, rough? You may have
felt like a victim?

Orwell describes group sport as a vent for “one’s physical strength” and “sadistic impulses”.

That means the rest of you are the sadistic ones.

He says that as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most
savage combative instincts are aroused. Even the spectators vicariously participate by battling each
other.

Truly, it’s ridiculous! Whole countries get worked up to the point of rage all for preposterous
contests. They honestly believe, if only for a moment, that running, jumping and kicking a ball are
measures of national virtue.

So comrades, friends, consider this: there is a war raging in near every city on the globe. Many of
you have chosen sides and battle your brothers. Search your hearts. It is time to confront the
festering evil, the shearing force that is... competitive sports!
References:

Granskog, J.1998. The Anthropology of Sport.[Online] Available from:


https://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=20&cad=rja&ved=0CIcBEBY
wCTgK&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.csub.edu%2F~jgranskog%2FA325%2FA325ReviewI-
W04.doc&ei=dOwSU7fTD8mVhQfr6YHADg&usg=AFQjCNFCxYPFxIsMdqFoRpyxzn_SC3SSXw&sig2=e8
MgNN9GsEqmw8BLWolIbw&bvm=bv.62286460,d.Yms [Downloaded: 25 February 2014]

Moore, J. 10 Heartwarming Stories Of Sportsmanship To Brighten Your Day. [Online] Available from:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jpmoore/the-10-most-heartwarming-moments-of-sportsmanship
[Downloaded: 2 March 2014]

Orwell, G. 1945. The Sporting Spirit.[Online] Available from:


http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/spirit/english/e_spirit [Downloaded: 25 February 2014]

Simmons, C. 2013. Be a Sport. Braintainment.13

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