Sport as a Substitute for War

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"Sport is such a pervasive human activity that to ignore it is to overlook one of the most significant aspects of contemporary American society. It is a social phenomenon which extends into education, politics, economics, art, the mass media, and even international diplomatic relations. Involvement in sport, either directly as a participant, or indirectly as a spectator, is almost considered a public duty by many Americans. It has been observed that if there is a religion in America today, it is sport." (Sage 1974) Society views sporting events and game-playing as a means of fun, physical exercise, and even relaxation. In reality, sport has become the primary substitute for war in a society that seemingly thrives on the need to continually engage in conflict. It would be difficult to view a football or soccer game today without noting the violent similarities between these sports and open warfare. Symbolic associations exist in addition to the obvious physical comparisons of sport and war. We have only to look at the names of sports teams today to see the most prominent use of aggressive and conflictive symbolism. However, the opportunity to engage in battle has been largely suppressed in the face of current world peace treaties. In its stead, sport has evolved into a war-like pastime. Numerous images throughout history support the unmistakable associations between sport and war. Given the similar overtones of aggressiveness and calculated violence in both, these inferences can be taken one step further by theorizing that sport is a direct descendant of open warfare and is, in fact, a derivative of war. Specific steps must be taken in order to reach an understanding of the complex relationship between sport and war. Explor... ... middle of paper ... ...pes, Richard H. "War, sports, and aggression: An empirical test of two rival theories" American Anthropologist 1973, Vol. 75, p. 64-86 Works Consulted Brady, James. "Part Sport, Part Crusade" Advertising Age 06/28/93, Vol. 64 Issue 27, p. 31 (Editorial 3/4 page) Civil War Maps. (Online) Available: Gorn, Elliott J., and Goldstein, Warren. A Brief History of American Sports United States: Hill and Wang, 1993 Jones, Stephen G. Sport, Politics and the Working Class: organised labour and sport in inter-war Britian New York: Manchester University Press, 1988 Mazarr, Michael J. Desert Storm: the Gulf War and What We Learned" Boulder: Westview Press, 1993 Noverr, Douglas A., and Ziewacz, Lawrence E. The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865-1980 Chicago, Illinois: Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1983

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