The importance of patriotism
Third Sunday in Lent Preview

Orwell on sport

I'm reading through a collection of Orwell's narrative essays and in one entitled "The Sporting Spirit" he debunks the idea that sport should lead to greater cooperation among nations.  In fact, he things it generates more animosity.  

And how could it be otherwise?  I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield.  Even if one didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles.

Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive.  You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win.  On the village green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved, it is possible to play simply for the fun and the exercise: but as soon as the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused.  Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this.  At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare. 

He is also concerned with "how and why this modern cult of sport arose."


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