Sport is an integral part of our culture.
Sports enthral and entertain us. Mostly, because athletes continually wow us with their agility, uncanny power
After years of practice and hard work they have
conditioned their bodies, fine-tuned their skills, and sculpted their
minds for their sport and within the person these complex resources
merge to produce athletic grace.
Elitism in sport is not a marvel of the
last couple of centuries. The story of sport is historically rich.
Modern sports are not so different from sporting activities from
hundreds and thousands of years ago, only today sport utilizes different
equipment, follows different rules and has vastly more spectacle and
Champions of Survival Outsmart and
Defeat Their Foe
humankind required feats of strength, skill, and endurance to simply
survive to adulthood - gathering food and hunting to avoid starvation,
outsmarting and defeating fierce predators to avoid death. Similar
muscle power and dexterity was required to survive the battles of war.
The clan relied on the braver and stronger members of the group for
food and protection. The less able members encouraged and applauded
their heroes. Storytellers re-enacted feats of strength and endurance,
creating legends about the exploits of their heroes. Early cave
paintings depicted the great victories of these champions.
Triumph in Fighting or Dying Well -
Victory in Staying Alive to Fight Another Day
In the advancement of human civilization
the survivalist skills of both hunters and warriors evolved into intense
competitions like the gladiator games, chariot races and jousting
tournaments. These were very serious aggressive competitions - man
against beast, man against man - that had to have a winner. For
thousands of years the survivors and winners of these major competitions
inspired admiration and became celebrities throughout their empire
simply by besting the competition.
For the ancient
gladiators there was triumph in fighting or dying well, but the ultimate
victory in the arena was to stay alive to fight another day. For the
charioteer, the scythed chariot of war evolved from a hostile military
cart used in battle to a racing chariot driven in the hippodrome. The
drivers were most often slaves. They were courageous and enterprising
dare-devils who would demonstrate their prowess in a dangerous sporting
competition to bring glory to their masters. The winning charioteer
received a wreath of laurel leaves and possibly, if they won often
enough, maybe a bit of money and the possibility of buying their
Jousting became obsolete in warfare in the 14th Century, but
the knights in shining armour continued to use their horses, lances and
shields in medieval jousting tournaments. The competitors and spectators
were treated to lavish banquets and the best knight received a prize.
competitions have certainly changed - from the Ancient Olympic Games
and their ritual sacrifices to the advertising-driven Superbowl; from
ancient footraces to extreme sports of the twenty-first century; from
jousting’s list field to our multi-sport arenas/complexes; from laurel
wreaths to multi-million dollar signing bonuses. The brave, strong and
heroic hunter gatherers and warrior knights evolved into the elite
athletes we celebrate today.
Through so many cultures and so much
change, however, one common element envelopes primitive, ancient and
modern sport - the victorious heroes are honoured, distinguished, and
praised, their deeds proclaimed and chronicled for future generations to
appreciate their accomplishments.
Athletes, the gladiator/warrior of ancient
times and the amateur/professional we admire today, understand their
passion and push themselves to attain higher levels of achievement,
exemplifying the physical, mental and moral potential of the human
being. Athletic competitions bring people together, connect our
communities and are the social glue that integrates and bonds our
cultures, imparting such values as justice, fair play, and teamwork.
Humankind has always loved its games so
sports have historically been intertwined into the fabric of our
society. Sporting activities have long been linked to the land, the
climate, the seasons, economics, and the traditions or attitudes of the
people. The competitors, the playing fields, the rules of engagement
and the spectators have evolved over time. Economic affluence, improved
transportation and people having more leisure time has increased
participation in sports, influencing the building of better and larger
facilities and provided more opportunities. Technological
advancements lead to better or safer equipment. And of course,
over time the rules being challenged
In our lifetime we
have witnessed significant
changes in sport and future generations will as well.