May 25, 2014

Source: Shutterstock

Sport of recent years has thus been not the means of spreading, but of destroying gentlemanly conduct.

Only a few scruples prevent me from suggesting the banning of sport altogether, which would surely be the only way of eliminating its drug-taking and other misconduct. The first is that those figures for aggression and violence at French amateur football matches partake of a statistical fault common among those who wish to horrify readers: namely, they are numerators without denominators. If there were 12,000 matches with violence out of 13,000 that took place, the figure would be truly shocking; but if there were 12,000,000 such matches, its significance would be much the less and perhaps not shocking at all.

My second scruple is that man has always been a vandal, inclined to destruction and other nastiness for its own sake. I remember reading many years ago a brilliant book by the classicist Alan Cameron, with the title Circus Factions: Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium, in which the author demonstrated that the terrible urban destruction wrought by the factions at the games was about nothing at all, and was without the political meaning that previous writers on the subject had ascribed to it. It is just possible (though I am usually averse to this hydrodynamic model of human nastiness) that if people could not express their nastiness in the sporting arena they would express it somewhere more serious.

Then the questions looms: What is serious in human life? Why not sport as well as philosophy?

Finally, the authors of L”€™Idéologie sportive imply that the great mass of mankind is duped by those who purvey sport to them, to their own great profit. The masses are duped, fooled, in the way that Marx thought that the religious were duped or fooled. Sport, say the authors, is the opiate of the masses.

I hesitate to think that only I am clever, while everyone else (except those few who agree with me) is a fool.      


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!