What Would George Orwell Say About The Super Bowl?

February 3, 2013

I can’t figure out whether I am more amused, annoyed, agitated or just plain disappointed by the way fans relate to huge sporting events.
Mind you, I really don’t have a problem with athletes on the field of play, it’s the moronic behavour of crazed sports fans that just makes me shake my head in disgust.
The most enthusiastic of these specimen tend to be the least athletic, chain-smoking obese fatheads that are living vicariously through the life of a 25 year-old. Most of the rest could not name their Congressman or Senator and likely get their news through talk radio and Fox so-called “News”.
A small percentage will even cover-up huge scandals like the raping of boys at Penn State by a former coach in order to not damage “The Brand”.
In a previous post I described seeing coaches beat and berate students on our high school football team. The same program offered my team mate a car and a girlfriend if he would not quit the team.
The worship of large professional team sports is collective insanity.
So once again, we turn to the words of writer and historian George Orwell to get his opinion of these type of sports:

“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.”

For more on this essay, go to this link for “The Sporting Spirit”.

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