Thoughts come from people, people don’t come from thoughts.
The topic is sport. I would like to invite you first to share your personal definition of sport.
I usually think of it as physical competition although that is often debated.
Sport could mean play as in being a good or bad sport. Fair or foul play.
Competition too, even if just with yourself. Indeed, self challenge is valid sport.
Now onto the metaphysics of it. Sport is almost synonymous with ritual. Originally it was, but it differed from temple ritual in that rather than seeking divine intervention it instead was an observation and affirmation of the natural cycles of the world.
Sport has two primal roots to it. The first being something not unlike ancient hunting rituals. A way of inspiring trust in the community. Confidence that the hunters are strong and skilled. The second root is in a form of simulation. The rules of the challenge being structured in such a way as to create a symbolic link between the sporting event and an outside world event. The outcome of these sport rituals was often considered an omen of future well being or misfortune. It was often also read as evidence of the favour or disfavour of the Gods.
The oldest combat sport ritual was quite deadly and every culture had some form of this. It is called “trial by combat”. One who was seen as a Champion of the Gods, someone thought to display divine favour, was appointed by the community elders as the challenger of any found guilty of wrong doing. If they could best this champion, it was not seen as physical strength alone, but as a demonstration of spiritual strength or strength of character. This is a notion held by different cultures world wide as strange as it seems today.
We still have political debates. People would likely rather see them in a fighting ring. Indeed. Feudalism was the idea that those strong enough to defend the people were also wise enough to lead the people. The defensive element has gone by the wayside these days unfortunately, or our presidents would be much less eager to make war.
Is war the ultimate sport? In a sense, and the earliest form of the Olympics was a non-lethal stand in for war.
I think our sanitizing of sport, as well as how we choose leaders, is a reflection of the preoccupation with mind and thinking in today’s society, less heart and spirit. I am normally all for favouring strength of mind, but the evidence of mental strength should still be proven in practice. The original values behind sports were linked heavily to the idea that the Gods were watching, and that the event had to be conducted in such a way as to honour the Gods and their wisdom, so cheating was the same as heresy.
Would we have less wars if we let people fight to the death in sport? Fight to the death in public. There is some evidence to support that as horrible as it sounds, it was one of the primary reasons why the Roman Empire lasted so long and spread so far so successfully.
Isn’t this part of our animal instincts, survival and dominance by the fittest? Yes. We still instinctively expect our leaders to at least look like fighters, like “alpha males”.
They use to do it in war battles of earlier times. Your champion against mine and we honour the outcome. Establishing pecking order is instinctive, but the pecking order is valid to the degree that the entire pack eats, and this is not well upheld with humans. Humanity sees productivity as virtue, and thus starvation is at least subconsciously seen as what the unable deserve. This is not an attitude that humanity has always held, but in contemporary jaded culture…
But back on sport, there is no real separation between sports and life. All that we understand, all that we are capable of understanding, takes the form of a game. The only thing that makes us see some things as games and not other things is the degree to which we believe there are clearly definable rules and the potential for fairness.
Should fairness not be a factor? Since life always works out fair even if we don’t like the outcome? You win some, you loose some. On the subject of fairness, the arena or magic circle of sport is an agreement, a covenant if you will, between members of humanity and between humanity and the divine. The area was a holy place, and the sport an observance of divine order as well as a demonstration of gratitude to the divine for the strength and wit we are gifted with as beings under heaven.
I think today the divine might be the fans. Today, the divine takes the form of the great God Mammon, also known as the almighty dollar, whatever puts butts in the seats. So the temple has been defiled in a way, but nothing can condemn the human spirit indefinitely.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.