[lit-ideas] The Meaning of 'Sport' -- as Quintessentially English

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 19:06:17 EDT

In a message dated 6/2/2004 5:19:00 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
phatic@xxxxxxxxxx writes:
is not  recognized as a violent and 
> activity unlike football,  the writer does not appreciate it as a 

I was reading David Frost and Antony Jay's, on this -- in "The English"  (New 
York: Stein and Day):
"The English invented sport. It is true that the Greeks had athletic  
tournaments, the medieval Europeans had jousts and tourneys, that the nobility  
around the world have always found jolly ways of killing wild animals, and  
that Scotsmen have been throwing telegraph poles at each other since the dawn 
time. Nevertheless, the concept of sport as organized open air competition of 
an  essentially useless nature is an English one, and a recent English one at 
that.  The word 'sport' as we now use it did not occur until 1864 -- the idea 
is  essentially Victorian. In particular the aura of decency and fair play 
and  leisurely activity is Victorian, and the word sportsman as a term of 
is  first recorded in 1893. The whole concept is so alien to other nations 
that the  French, for example, have had to swipe the actual word from us (_Le 
sport_),  since they cannot even translate it." (p. 230).

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