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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:43 PM
Original message
An Orwell quote on sports - I'd like to hear your opinion
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 02:43 PM by ThomWV
The words of George Orwell came to mind when I read all the posts about the school girls who trounced another team so badly. Tell me what you think, is he right?

"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words: it is war minus the shooting."
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
1. I agree 100%.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. I think the key in this quote is "Serious sport". I take that to mean professional
level and that respect I agree. Sport on a participatory level is another matter, IMO.


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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. What about Texas or Florida high school football?
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devilgrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. I would think yes.
That would qualify as "serious sport"
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. What about Texas and Florida high school football? n/t
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:01 PM
Response to Reply #12
25. The were the 2 best examples I am personally familiar
Where the communities take uncommon interest and pay special attention to high school football. Many communities regularly broadcast the games on television for instance. You don't see that in most of the country.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
15. I see your point. But don't those kinds of programs simply seek to emulate professional sports?
American football itself is the worst sport I can think of for this discussion. It is literally and intentionally a reflection of war. Baseball OTOH is at the other end of the spectrum.

I guess the point I was trying to make is that sports, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad, rather the motivation behind it can be. A bunch of kids, or even adults, that go to the parks and play a pick-up game is not a bad thing. I can't think how many times we'd go play B-ball for hours and forget or lose track of the score.


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misanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:19 AM
Response to Reply #15
33. Baseball players cheat whenever they feel they can get away with it...
...Foreign substances on balls, corked bats, steroids, you name it.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 06:36 AM
Response to Reply #33
37. That's exactly what I said in the first place, thanks.
"Professional" sports, "serious" sports...
:kick:


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yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
27. there its war, religion, and sex all rolled into one
And in the South & Midwest, what the hell else is there to do? Watch the hogs wallow in their own filth and count corn stalks?
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:54 PM
Response to Original message
4. I tend to agree
:hi:
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zeemike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
5. He got it right.
And you can see all of that displayed in pro football.
And even in hi school football as well.
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specimenfred1984 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
6. "Serious" sport yes, sport for the fun of it, no
If a person plays a sport for the fun of watching a basketball go through a hoop or a tennis ball landing exactly where it was intended to be hit then no, sport isn't war. If the intent is to make someone else lose which, is the case 99% of the time then yes, it's not a game anymore. It's a fact that people like to hit things, tear things up like a dog likes a bone but humans have a very easy choice to not harm others while doing it. I've played sports my entire life and it is indeed true that most sports organizations in the U.S. are just as greedy, self-destructively over competitive and full of lying, cheating and stealing aholes as any other segment of the population.

The U.S. has become a fascist and propagandized country over the last 30 years under GOPig rule. Most people believe that it's perfectly OK to lie, cheat and steal as long as you don't get caught and in sport it's a given and even praised if you can get away with something. In effect, our entire society has become "deregulated" and it's going to be a long road back to decency.
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Wetzelbill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
7. I think he's wrong to an extent
That stuff does exist, in some sports more than others, but it's a blanket statement about sports and blanket statements are never totally right. Some sports aren't even violent.
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Mojambo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
9. War without the shooting is better than war with the shooting.
Orwell was just sore about always being picked last.

Weenie.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #9
28. Way better.
I think organized sports is today's Two-Minute Hate. I mean, we have others, but spectating is certainly cathartic.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. Interesting quote. However, one question: is high school sport "serious sport?" n/t
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Still Sensible Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
11. It's bullshit.
Don't get me wrong, what those girls did and what their coaches allowed them to do was reprehensible.

But, sports can be and frequently are a positive force in the world... for everything from teaching teamwork and self reliance, to building friendships and a respect for others. Spectator sports provide a welcome and generally healthy diversion from the day-to-day grind.

Orwell is obviously one of those people who always got picked last for dodgeball in school or was the dweeb the jocks made fun of. In any event, the quote is crap.
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specimenfred1984 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Maybe Orwell witnessed a parent at a high school "game" scream their lungs out
at a coach for not putting their kid in a "game" because the parent wanted a scholarship for the kid in a world where the parent can't afford college. Or maybe Orwell watched a football player break his neck as the opponents cheered. Maybe Orwell simply observed how sport is sold in a propagandized culture as a product, not a game. Maybe Orwell is pointing to a bigger picture that you just can't see or understand.
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Still Sensible Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. No need to try and insult me
My points are valid... and yes I get disgusted at out of control parents when I see them, too. I see the big picture quite clearly, and it seems to me that singling out sports as this great big evil out there is misplaced. Whatever the impetus behind Orwell's quote, I believe he was wrong. If you want to take issue with behaviors that are unacceptable within the category of sports, I will gladly join you, but the broad brush is over the top.
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misanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:22 AM
Response to Reply #14
34. I've never witnessed fans cheering a serious injury to a player**nm
**
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #11
23. "one of those people who always got picked last for dodgeball in school or was the dweeb the jocks"
"made fun of"

You do realize you undermined your own argument and gave Orwell support for his?

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Still Sensible Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #23
29. Not at all, just stated a fact of high school life
doesn't mean I condone it or support it. Heck, I paticipated in some sports activity in school, but was certainly more dweeb than jock myself. Are we as a society supposed to ban every human activity in which some bad behavior is sometimes exhibited? I find that idea absurd. And I sensed in Orwell's quote that he thought this activity shouldn't exist because it was evil. I just didn't like the broad brush Orwell was trying to paint with.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 06:41 AM
Response to Reply #23
38. Apparently not. n/t
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
13. What about badminton? nt
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
16. Sports has all the ingredients
Loyalty or patriotism
Rage
Violence

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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. Sounds more like politics.
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Political Tiger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
19. Truth! n/t
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
20. Better than actual war. nt
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infidel dog Donating Member (186 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
21. As far as some American professional $ports are concerned, yes, but...
I think Orwell went a little over the top here. Sports can build mental discipline and self confidence. I am not a jock by any stretch of the imagination, and hated the whole "jock" mentality and the goons it produced in school. In fact, I still hate it. But when I started training and became an amateur boxer late in my high school years my personal growth was tremendous. And I love the art of baseball, even though I was never a particularly good player. On the other hand, the horror that has become the NFL, especially as pushed by Fox, well, Orwell may have something there. The subject is really too complex for quick write-offs, one way or the other.
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Book Lover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
22. Context, context, context!
He was talking about the environment in single-sex British pubilc schools more than 70 years ago.
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. Very important
You are right, the context of the statement is very important if it is its relevence to that time that you are interested. By omitting context what I'm really asking is what do you make of the statement in terms of today. I'm interested in how many responses have focused on what is serious sport too. I don't know that anything in orwell's time compared to the Super Bowl for instance.

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 03:15 AM
Response to Reply #22
31. Here it is: Mainly about international and professional sports, but public schools do get a look in
The Sporting Spirit

...
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 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. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe at any rate for short periods that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.

Even a leisurely game like cricket, demanding grace rather than strength, can cause much ill-will, as we saw in the controversy over body-line bowling and over the rough tactics of the Australian team that visited England in 1921. Football, a game in which everyone gets hurt and every nation has its own style of play which seems unfair to foreigners, is far worse. Worst of all is boxing. One of the most horrible sights in the world is a fight between white and coloured boxers before a mixed audience. But a boxing audience is always disgusting, and the behaviour of the women, in particular, is such that the army, I believe, does not allow them to attend its contests. At any rate, two or three years ago, when Home Guards and regular troops were holding a boxing tournament, I was placed on guard at the door of the hall, with orders to keep the women out.

In England, the obsession with sport is bad enough, but even fiercer passions are aroused in young countries where games playing and nationalism are both recent developments. In countries like India or Burma, it is necessary at football matches to have strong cordons of police to keep the crowd from invading the field. In Burma, I have seen the supporters of one side break through the police and disable the goalkeeper of the opposing side at a critical moment. The first big football match that was played in Spain about fifteen years ago led to an uncontrollable riot. As soon as strong feelings of rivalry are aroused, the notion of playing the game according to the rules always vanishes. People want to see one side on top and the other side humiliated, and they forget that victory gained through cheating or through the intervention of the crowd is meaningless. Even when the spectators don't intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and rattling opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.

Instead of blah-blahing about the clean, healthy rivalry of the football field and the great part played by the Olympic Games in bringing the nations together, it is more useful to inquire how and why this modern cult of sport arose. Most of the games we now play are of ancient origin, but sport does not seem to have been taken very seriously between Roman times and the nineteenth century. Even in the English public schools the games cult did not start till the later part of the last century. Dr Arnold, generally regarded as the founder of the modern public school, looked on games as simply a waste of time. Then, chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige. Also, organised games are more likely to flourish in urban communities where the average human being lives a sedentary or at least a confined life, and does not get much opportunity for creative labour. In a rustic community a boy or young man works off a good deal of his surplus energy by walking, swimming, snowballing, climbing trees, riding horses, and by various sports involving cruelty to animals, such as fishing, cock-fighting and ferreting for rats. In a big town one must indulge in group activities if one wants an outlet for one's physical strength or for one's sadistic impulses. Games are taken seriously in London and New York, and they were taken seriously in Rome and Byzantium: in the Middle Ages they were played, and probably played with much physical brutality, but they were not mixed up with politics nor a cause of group hatreds.

http://orwell.ru/library/articles/spirit/english/e_spir...


Given that he wrote that in 1945, before the football hooligans developed in Britain, I'd say he was pretty much spot on.
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Book Lover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #31
42. Thanks for that
I didn't look it up and was thinking of a different piece.
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Marr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:03 PM
Response to Original message
26. I agree. Sport is at it's best when it's as Orwell described it.
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 04:05 PM by Marr
I'm not a sports fan at all, but I regularly attend professional hockey games. I have only a vague familiarity with the rules of the game, but I find the whole experience to be extremely cathartic and relaxing. You sit in a crowd of thousands of frothing, angry people, shouting and cursing at everything around them. I love it. I love sitting in that turbulent little sea of hate for an hour or so.

If I happen to end up sitting on the winning team's side, I get up and switch sides. The side that's losing is invariable the most resentful and angry. I'm in Los Angeles, so my personal favorite match-up is Ducks vs. Kings, because the crowds are familiar with one another and there's a deep seated lack of respect all around. I never miss these games. They are my therapy.

Honestly, when I get out of a good hockey game (by good I mean it fits Orwell's description), I feel like I've just had a two hour massage. I'm upbeat and relaxed all week.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
30. I agree with this
which is why I am against organized sports being played in public schools. Physical fitness and lifetime fitness activities should be encouraged instead.
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MrSlayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:11 AM
Response to Original message
32. Yes, that is the charm of sports. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing they still had real gladiators.
Pro Football, Hockey, Boxing, Wrestling, MMA etc. It's all tribalism and it's all to serve as an outlet for the more base emotions. Professional athletes have taken the place of the gladiators.
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conspirator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 05:39 AM
Response to Original message
35. Ok... team sports are a way of expressing our instincts. So what?
Are we going to bash team sports because of that? Do you prefer real war or killing?
Our bodies were built to run, to hunt, to fight, to survive extreme conditions while cooperating with others. Team sports help us maintain those habilities. There is nothing wrong with such sports, as long as violence is restrained.
Besides some team sports require brains and agility as well as brute force, such as soccer or baseball.
Fighting sports is a different issue. I am against boxing, because it punishes your body too much. But I am not against karate or judo.
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ProfessorGAC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 05:44 AM
Response to Original message
36. Hyperbolic
It appears that George has not realized that there have been organized sports since the gladiators.

I watched an NBA game yesterday. Nobody died! The winning team gained no territory or resources. The losing team had to sign no surrender.

It's an intentionally provocative statement and i don't believe that even Orwell believed it.
GAC
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #36
43. See #31; plainly, he did realise that
because he said: "Games are taken seriously in London and New York, and they were taken seriously in Rome and Byzantium: in the Middle Ages they were played, and probably played with much physical brutality, but they were not mixed up with politics nor a cause of group hatreds."

Read what he said, and I think you'll see that he did mean it. He's particularly thinking of boxing, and soccer (and look what happened to soccer crowds in Britain in the decades after he wrote this; soccer is still the venue for vicious sectarian rivalry and hatred in Glasgow, more or less to today). Crowds do riot, in various sports, around the world.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 07:24 AM
Response to Original message
39. The quote is perfect
One of my favorite authors on cricket is an American - Mike Marqusee who left the US during the Vietnam War. He wrote a book about cricket in the sub-continent called War Minus the Shooting.

His Redemption Song about Muhammad Ali is an absolutely beautiful read.
http://www.mikemarqusee.com/?cat=14

Here's my favorite quotation on the lack of fair play in sport - from the 19th century.
http://books.google.com.jm/books?id=DfcjAAAAMAAJ&dq=Mar...

Mary Mitford Our Village -p.118

"I doubt if there be any scene in the world more animating or delightful than a cricket match: I do not mean a set match at Lord's ground for money, hard money, between a certain number of gentlemen and players as they are called- people who make a trade of that noble sport, and degrade it into an affair of bettings, and hedgings and cheatings..."
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timtom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 09:25 AM
Response to Original message
40. In polite conversation,
I have blamed America's infatuation with football in particular, with why fascism has enjoyed such a firm grip on American politics/military adventures/lack of interest in health care/etc.

Call me a sentimental old fool, if you will. But it's just an opinion.
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
41. He's got it backwards.
Sport isn't war without shooting, war is a sport with shooting.
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
44. Yep. Little mini-wars.
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Mr. Blonde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 05:25 PM
Response to Original message
45. There is a positive and negative to everything
The benefits that sports have far still outweigh the negatives.
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