Sports and politics

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Answer the essay prompt question(s). You will need to provide a short summary of the
assigned text.
 Write a synthesis paper (1.5-2 pages) to support or reject Orwell’s point of view using
at least three of the six sources or other legitimate/authoritative sources that you
might find yourself.
 Accurately report information from the sources USING YOUR OWN WORDS and
present YOUR VIEW on the topic. Ensure that your voice is dominant – inserts source
ideas and blend them with your own ideas (‘sandwich approach’).
 Make sure your topic sentence, arguments and syntheses are clearly stated.
 Include accurate in-text citations (direct and indirect) and a separate references page
at end of text. IF NOT PROVIDED, use the page numbers of the word document
upon which the sources are saved as sources page numbers.
 Refer to the synthesis-writing handout

Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Synthesis Graded Assignment Read George Orwell’s ‘The Sporting Spirit’ (1945) and then read the handout entitled ‘Resources for Synthesis Assignment’. Next, identify information in them that you could use in answering the following question: Q- What is the ‘Sporting Spirit’? How does Orwell examine this topic in his essay and what are his conclusions? Identify and discuss different reasons and methods of exploring this theme and suggest what might be done to change the situation Orwell is describing. Key Features of the Synthesis Assignment:  Answer the essay prompt question(s). You will need to provide a short summary of the assigned text.  Write a synthesis paper (1.5-2 pages) to support or reject Orwell’s point of view using at least three of the six sources or other legitimate/authoritative sources that you might find yourself.  Accurately report information from the sources USING YOUR OWN WORDS and present YOUR VIEW on the topic. Ensure that your voice is dominant – inserts source ideas and blend them with your own ideas (‘sandwich approach’).  Make sure your topic sentence, arguments and syntheses are clearly stated.  Include accurate in-text citations (direct and indirect) and a separate references page at end of text. IF NOT PROVIDED, use the page numbers of the word document upon which the sources are saved as sources page numbers.  Refer to the synthesis-writing handouts and presentations discussed during the previous lectures when in need of certain clarifications.  The assignment will be marked out of 10/2 (5% of final grade).  Submit the assignment with a cover that contains the title of the assignment, type of assignment and the names of the student, professor and university.  All submitted papers must be uploaded to the appropriate assignment section on Safe Assignment prior to class.  You MUST submit a HARD COPY in class on Monday 8 December 2014 by the beginning of class period.  A paper is considered LATE if it does not meet both conditions (uploaded to Safe Assignment and hard copy to class). Late papers will be downgraded. NOTE: Failure to comply with any of the above conditions will reduce your grade.

Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 1 Resources for Synthesis Assignment 1- From Daily Telegraph: ‘How Orwell Misread the Sporting Spirit’ By Brendan Gallagher 30 Jul 2004 George Orwell wasn’t wrong about much but he was way off beam with his famously jaundiced view of sport. In 1941, with war waging and Britain contemplating a grim future, he wrote: ‘Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play, it is bound up with hatred and jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all the rules and sadistic pleasure in unnecessary violence. In other words it is war minus the shooting.’’ The words of a man who never played competitive sport – a perplexed observer. A solitary, introvert man who had no concept of teamwork and no comprehension of the passion which motivates sportsmen and women. No wonder his Big Brother vision of the future in 1984 was bleak and soulless. Those able to visit the Imperial War Museum (North) in Manchester over the coming months can make their own judgment about sport’s relationship with war. The museum is staging a stunning exhibition entitled ‘The Greater Game’ which tells the story of sportsmen in war and examines sport’s relationship with politics. It sounds dry and serious; in reality it is fascinating, humorous and moving. How could sport be otherwise? Make a weekend of it because you will want to pop in more than once. That I can guarantee. Sporting myths are examined and thankfully survive close scrutiny. Captain Nevill did encourage his troops over the top in the First World War by kicking a football into no-man’s land, and the heavy, quartered leather football remains; there were countless ad hoc matches between British and German troops, normally on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, and their details are faithfully recorded. One German captain presented a splendid bierstein to his opposite number after a hard-fought game. There is a wonderful collection of War Office recruitment posters which cynically exploit the common man’s close affinity with sport; another striking image is German prisoners of war peering over the stable doors at Newbury racecourse where they were incarcerated. Most cricket fans have read of E W Swanton’s 1939 Wisden which gave solace to many Allied soldiers in Japanese prisoner of war camps. To see its dog-eared, yellow pages is thought-provoking in the extreme. You can learn about truly exceptional individuals. There are the stories, in minute detail, of 11 sportsmen, a randomly selected First XI of sporting heroes. Some you will have heard of, Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 2 like rugby’s Edgar Mobbs who formed his own First World War regiment, and former England cricket captain Lionel Tennyson, who was wounded three times and twice mentioned in dispatches at Loos, Ypres, the Somme and Cambrai. After surviving those battles, batting onehanded against the Australian fast bowlers, as he did in a Test in 1921, was a doddle. Maurice Turnbull, Hedley Verity and Learie Constantine are also well known, but football’s Walter Tull, Donald Bell and Jimmy Spiers, rugby league forward and world wrestling champion Douglas Clark, Australian Test cricketer Ross Gregory and jockey Frank Furlong may be new names to you. Their stories are extraordinary and inspiring and we offer just a taste on these pages. Sportsmen make great soldiers because they are generally fit, courageous, aggressive, skilled, self-sacrificing and disciplined. What Orwell overlooked is that most sportsmen bring a generosity of spirit, dignity and integrity to everything they do, including going to war. With few exceptions, they behave better on the sporting field than the rest of mankind do in their everyday lives and over the years they have taken those qualities into the battlefield. They raise the bar, especially when the going gets tough. Politicians and political commentators will never understand sport. In 1974, Cuba’s Fidel Castro started getting on his high horse: ‘One day, when the Yankees accept peaceful coexistence with our country, we shall beat them at baseball, too, and the advantages of revolutionary over capitalist sport will become clear to all.’ Only somebody who knew nothing of sport and human nature would say that. 2- Football and ethnic violence in the Balkans Ivan Djordjevic 22 October 2014 How can one flag cause so much trouble? A contextual analysis of the now notorious, abandoned football match between Serbia and Albania on 14 October 2014. ‘Football 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’, stated George Orwell in his essay ‘The Sporting Spirit’ in 1945. These bitter words could be easily applied to a recent football match between Serbian and Albanian national teams in EURO 2016 qualifier. The match, scheduled for October 14 2014 in Belgrade, was abandoned after the brawl caused by the appearance of a drone carrying the flag of the so-called ‘Greater Albania’. The game was supposed to be a fitting prelude for the historical visit of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to Belgrade, first time after 1946. Instead, it turned into a disaster. Instead of Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 3 showing how problematic relations between two states do not undermine new regional politics strongly devoted to the project of the membership in the EU, the match between two national teams displayed nothing but the nationalist violence in both countries. The situation eventually started to calm down a week after the match. After the days full of inflammatory rhetoric and heavy reactions from both sides threatening to cancel the scheduled visit of the Albanian PM, political leaderships of Serbia and Albania reached an agreement to postpone the meeting for November 11. And this is probably the only good news that followed the game. UEFA’s decision about the punishment for the two Football Associations is yet to be announced at the moment of writing this article. Still, however drastic the sanctions, it is clear that the events related to the abandoned match have almost nothing to do with football. To recap what happened that autumn night in Serbian capital: the organisation of the match between the two national teams involved heavy security measures and a strict ban for the supporters of Albania. The reason behind these unpopular measures with 3500 policemen securing the event is the unresolved conflict in Kosovo. Similar security policy was applied just a year ago, in September 2013, when national teams of Serbia and Croatia, the ‘old foes’, played against each other in World Cup 2014 qualifiers. The game started without any indications of potential incidents, the crowd chanting the ‘usual’ insults against Albanians. Had the atmosphere remained the same, the game would have finished without significant incidents, perhaps. However, this was not supposed to happen. The match was interrupted before the end of the first half with the appearance of a small flying object – a drone – carrying a flag and map of the so-called ‘Greater Albania’, which includes, apart from Albania and Kosovo, parts of other neighbouring countries, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The brawl started after one of Serbian players managed to catch the flag upon its landing on the pitch, being subsequently physically attacked by members of the Albanian team who wanted to take the flag from him. What happened next was a huge fight that included not only players and team officials, but also the present stewards and fans who somehow managed to invade the pitch. One of the invaders was Ivan Bogdanov, perhaps one of the most notorious football hooligans in the world, ‘famous’ for his role in the cancellation of a match between Italy and Serbia in Genova four years ago. The violent scenes
that followed resulted in the Albanian national team taking refuge in the safety of the tunnel, while angry fans were throwing various objects on their heads. Serbian players tried to protect their Albanian colleagues, but it didn’t help much in the extremely heated atmosphere that pervaded the stadium. The epilogue was the abandonment of the match, pending UEFA’s decision on the penalties. Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 4 Reactions that followed the match were somewhat predictable. Serbian and Albanian media competed in accusing the other side for escalating the incidents, while social networks burst with inflammatory rhetoric. The Serbian side highlighted the ‘terrible provocation’ – the appearance of the map of ‘Greater Albania’ that caused ‘justified discontent’ among people, while the Albanian media insisted that the brawl showed the ‘barbaric and savage nature of Serbs’. Western reports offered explanations pertaining to the usual metaphor of the Balkans as a powder keg of Europe, where old nationalist enmities between Balkan tribes still escalate on regular basis. However, the hysterical accusation in Serbian and Albanian media, as well as orientalyzing explanations of what had happened during the game, don’t offer a framework for understanding the structural factors that once again made a Balkan football match good material for front pages in world media. With football on the back seat, of course. In this text I will not try to speculate on who caused the incident at the match and why, and who let Ivan Bogdanov walk freely on the pitch in the middle of the chaos. The key issue is how can one flag, however problematic, cause chaos at a football match and generate nationalist hysteria. The memory of another football game Firstly, the events that occurred during the match between Serbia and Albania have a striking similarity with another famously abandoned football game that took place in May 1990, immediately before the break-up of former Yugoslavia. The game that was supposed to be played in the Croatian capital Zagreb at Maksimir stadium, between local club Dinamo and Red Star from Belgrade, didn’t even start, due to violent incidents on the pitch. This match soon became a sort of a myth, considered in Serbian and Croatian public narrative as the symbolical beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia, commonly recognised through the phrase ‘the war started at Maksimir’. In fact, the mechanism that followed both games was the same. Ethnically motivated incidents that escalated on the pitch triggered extreme reactions in the public sphere in both countries. In the ‘Maksimir’ case, both the Serbian and Croatian sides were accusing each other for causing the brawl, creating the atmosphere of mutual distrust. This football match, basically, served as a cause for political actions that led to the violent break-up of the Yugoslav state. The match between Serbia and Albania induced similar reactions. Public space became full of the worst nationalistic stereotypes, with the sad consequences on the field. The cases of the attacks on the shops owned by ethnic Albanians in several Serbian towns, as well as the ethnically motivated violence against Serbs in the regions with Albanian majority, showed that the escalation of violent incidents by far go beyond the significance of one football match. Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 5 Moreover, it was football again that opened the Pandora box of ethnic hatred. The titles in the Serbian media the day after the game seem self-explanatory: ‘Albanian security service organised the assault’, ‘Albanians set the Balkans on fire again’, ‘A devilish plan from Tirana’. The Albanian side followed the same pattern. The celebrations organised in many places in Albania and Kosovo and the ignorant attitude to the highly contested nationalistic symbol such as the map of the ‘Greater Albania’ showed the same nationalistic drive as in Serbia. Extreme reactions that escalated both in Serbia and Albania, certainly, wouldn’t be possible if the cause was any other event but the football match. Once again, football displayed its capacity to homogenise the nation, at the same time showing how easy ‘the beautiful game’ can serve as a trigger for unrestrained reactions that eventually lead to violence. Indeed, not only in the Balkans. The key to understanding the role of football as a trigger for the violent nationalism in the Balkans is the incident at Maksimir stadium in 1990. After these events football in the whole region became permanently and deeply contaminated by nationalised politics. Chants like ‘Kill the Serb’, ‘Kill the Croat, so that the Albanian won’t have a brother’ and likewise, became a part of football folklore on the stadiums across the region. A good example of this attitude could be a comment made by reporter during the live broadcast of the match between Serbia and Albania. While the whole stadium was chanting ‘Kill, slaughter, Albanians to vanish’, his remark was that the crowd ‘express their discontent’. The football stadia, therefore, still remain a space for the expression of, let’s say, ‘acceptable nationalism’, where killing the ‘fags’, Croats, Serbs, Albanians, Moslems, Orthodox, is considered normal and desirable behaviour. Using ritual violence to insult and intimidate the enemy on the pitch represents a regular practice in football fans’ subculture. However, the incidents that occurred at Maksimir stadium in 1990 or during the recent match between Serbia and Albania, indicate how easily this ritual violence can turn into the real one. When ritual, verbal insults transform to actual violence followed by setting fire to houses or shops owned by ‘the enemy’, it goes far beyond ‘usual’ stadium enmities. What happened last week in Belgrade represents a very dangerous political manipulation, where football stands as a stage for causing chaos without obvious reasons. Responsibility for the violent events lies with the Serbian and Albanian side, as well as the UEFA. The essential message, however, is that inflammatory atmosphere created around one football match could easily serve as a trigger for an unpredictable instability. It seems that this time, luckily, things were eventually brought under control. It is obvious, however, that manipulation with nationalist sentiments still works around the region. And it could be repeated again, next time with much worse consequences. The drone flying over Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 6 Belgrade stadium may not have carried a bomb, but a symbolic explosion caused by its load was loud enough. In the region where economic and social situation, caused by neoliberal economic agendas, is reaching a collapse, the turn to the right wing and nationalism could make things only worse. 3- The Rise and Fall of the Sporting Spirit January 16, 2012 3:04 am Review by Simon Kuper published in The Financial Times. Mihir Bose’s The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World, London: Constable, Little, Brown Book Group, 320 pages, RRP£18.99 In 1886 the young French nobleman Pierre de Coubertin made his customary pilgrimage to Rugby School in England. He wandered around the playing fields, and ended up in the chapel where Rugby’s famous headmaster Thomas Arnold is buried. Quite wrongly, Coubertin imagined that Arnold had invented the ‘sporting spirit’: the notion that sport turns athletes into gentlemen who believe in fair play. Coubertin eventually created the modern Olympic Games in the hope of spreading this spirit around the world. Today the sporting spirit is almost as dead as Arnold. Sport is popular as never before but at the top level the talk is now of victories and profits. Mihir Bose has covered the sportspolitics-business nexus for almost 30 years. His hugely ambitious new book examines ‘not only how sport has become big business but also how this change has altered the original concept of sporting spirit’. The spirit was invente
d by an English novelist. In 1857 Thomas Hughes wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays, inspired by his own time at Arnold’s Rugby. In the novel, pupils play games for love and for the greater glory of the collective. They grow into English gentlemen under Arnold’s benevolent gaze. The real-life Arnold had no interest in sport. Nonetheless, Hughes’s novel became a bestseller. It reached Coubertin, who thought the sporting spirit was just what France needed. Mr Bose attempts with some success to tell the entire history of modern sport. From his account it is possible to distil three periods. The first, the Arnold-Coubertin era, runs until about the 1930s. Expatriate Britons serving the empire spread their games to foreigners, usually without meaning to. They played sport for fun, and foreigners – even when barred from sport by Britons – copied them and their Arnoldian creed. The Young Men’s Christian Association, whose instructors invented basketball and volleyball, spread the sporting spirit with more intent. Some of the most admired sportsmen of this first period were upper-class amateurs Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 7 who played for love. The governing bodies were run like private gentlemen’s clubs. Winning wasn’t everything. The second historical period is sporting nationalism. Once Coubertin’s Olympics took off, and international sport grew, countries sought prestige by winning sports matches. Benito Mussolini probably pioneered sporting nationalism, but most countries followed. Of course this was the opposite of what Coubertin had intended: he thought sport would create international brotherhood between gentlemen everywhere. The third era of commercialism began in the 1970s, as sport took off on television. Media magnates such as Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, and sporting entrepreneurs such as Horst Dassler of Adidas and Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone, didn’t care about nationalism or the Arnoldian spirit. They cared about sport’s big audiences. TV turned sport into a global industry. Inevitably the athletes themselves wanted some of this new money. British athletes at the 1948 Olympics had played for just a free pair of Y-front underpants. But later Olympians, tennis players and eventually rugby players shed their amateur status. Today the last amateur redoubt is US college sport, a billion-dollar enterprise whose rulers recite Arnoldian pieties as an excuse for not paying their workers. As more money came into sport, and the rewards for winning grew, winning became more important. ‘Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing,’ as the American football coach Vince Lombardi summed up the ethos. Today, Arnoldian rhetoric is used chiefly to market sports to gullible consumers. The loudest trumpeter of Arnoldian rhetoric today is Sepp Blatter, president of the global football authority Fifa. He calls football ‘a school for life’, and Fifa ‘the football family’. Fifa still runs itself like a private gentlemen’s club. All this would be fine except that it isn’t 1857 anymore. Fifa now takes in billions of dollars. It is not always clear where the money goes. Here is the central dilemma that Mr Bose outlines: sporting spirit versus filthy lucre. At sport’s highest level, lucre will surely win. Soon nobody will even pretend any more that sport builds character. Even in recreational sport, the Arnoldian ethos is now under pressure from hotheaded parents yelling Lombardian slogans at their children. Mr Bose’s research is wide and deep, and his prose bright and clear. Usually his stories are more telling than his ideas, but he has wonderfully illuminated the rise and fall of the sporting spirit since a novelist invented it out of nothing. 4- Essay on Sportsman Spirit Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 8 By Rohit Agarwal Nehru once said ‘play the game with the spirit of the game’. Life is full of failures and success. When we play a game too, we may either win or lose. ‘Sportsman spirit’ is the spirit of accepting one’s success with humility. One of the main advantages of playing any sport is that it teaches us to cope with these failures and disappointments that come our way and to make renewed efforts to achieve success next time. After being defeated in a game repeatedly one begins to learn to fight better and yet accept the defeat gracefully. The same is said to one’s life too. There are times when we fail at our jobs or we fail to do our duty or we may even lose some great things in life, if we lose hope and curse our fate we can never progress in life. Once a man lost all his money and property in business. The man was practically reduced to nothing. He had a great deal of sportsman spirit and managed to get a hold over himself in such a way that he started building his business right from scratch. He had been defeated at the game of business by his competitors, but he had been a sportsman in school and this helped him to remember the time he had been defeated by better opponent. He recalled how the other team’s calibre had in fact inspired him to match up to their level and improve himself. One should make efforts always to cultivate a sportsman spirit and go through life happily. The parents and teachers of students should help in inculcating some values in their children about the need to keep one’s chin up even in the face of adversity. Indoor and outdoor games can always be provided for children so that they acquire training in the game of loss and gain. 5- From ‘Sports: When Winning is the Only Thing, Can Violence Be Far Away?’ (pp. 181-210) in Myriam Miedzian’s Boys will be boys: Breaking the link between masculinity and violence published in New York by Lantern Books in 2002. Athletes as Role Models We know from research in psychology that young children tend to model their behaviour and attitudes on those of adults, particularly adults they admire. Athletes (and fathers watching/ playing sports) are role models. Even Presidents admire them. Children watch ice hockey on television. We all know the stale joke ‘I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out’. But how many children, or adults, are aware that a majority of hockey players want to abolish this violence? At annual meetings of the National Hockey Players Association violence has been a major issue, with players asking owners to impose much stiffer penalties (including expulsion). Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 9 But Club Owners (sponsors and the media) refuse to discourage the violence, because it attracts spectators who come to see ‘red ice’. Players who do not participate in the violence endanger their jobs. Most players do not want to see a game where their lives (or others) are in jeopardy. That pressure ultimately comes from owners (sponsors and the media) ‘who are into making profits’. But to children it all seems natural. Little does he or she know that the extreme violence he sees often grows more out of the owners’ commercial interests than players’ inclinations. A child who watches acts of violence committed by thieves, murderers, or sadists in films or on TV knows that society disapproves of these acts. The child who watches sports knows that athletes’ acts of violence are approved of. It makes sense that sports violence would serve as an important role model for children who tend to be well adjusted socially, while illegal violence on the screen would tend to have a greater influence on the behaviour of children who are more psychologically damaged and/or feel more alienated from society. Sports plays a major role in reinforcing the concern with success, winning, and dominance. On the sports field these goals alone justify illegal and violent acts. Violence in the Stands Sports Illustrated took an ‘unscientific poll of fans’ and reported in its August 8, 1988 issue that ‘everyone who had ever been a spectator at a sporting event of any kind had, at one time or another, experienced the bellowing of obscenities, racial or religious epithets …
abusive sexual remarks to women in the vicinity, fistfights between strangers and fistfights between friends’. Increased spectator violence is one more manifestation of the escalation of violence which has taken place in our society in the last 20 years. Violence between athletes can only serve to encourage it. 6- From ‘In Defence of the Sporting Spirit’ Steve Reynolds on 19 January 2011 [] Orwell was writing in the wake of the world’s most devastating war, the outcome of which made the Soviets’ tour painfully propagandist. We don’t need to share in this context, though, in order to recognise how easily sport can play on our rivalries. In football alone – the initial though not exclusive target of Orwell’s attack – we’re constantly confronted with sport accommodating pre-existing prejudices by providing them with a forum for expression, a concrete enemy, and all manner of actions (fouling, cheating) that can ‘justify’ all manner of views. When considered in this light, sport does indeed appear to epitomise the warring spirit. Just think of the animosity displayed at last weekend’s derbies. Firas A J Al-Jubouri PhD ENG 204 Fall 2014 Page | 10 But Orwell’s diagnosis of the sporting spirit is mistaken. What he was really railing against was nationalism, or more generally, tribalism: ‘the… habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige.’ He was railing against the tribal spirit, not the sporting one. This isn’t to deny that sport can be tribal. Competition is essential to sport, and arguably, we begin the descent into tribalism as soon as we back one competitor over another. This can come about in two ways. Often our choice of whom to back will be grounded in a preconceived sense of our own identity (e.g., of our own tribe), but equally, it can be that very choice, made almost arbitrarily, that grounds any such sense. The key to tribalism is that in either case we understand ourselves strictly in terms of a unit, and by doing this, compromise or even surrender our autonomy. That, as Orwell well knew, can be devastating. In his penultimate paragraph, Orwell acknowledges that nationalism isn’t unique to sport. Sport, he writes, is ‘merely another effect of the causes that have produced nationalism.’ And it is here that the mistake in his reasoning becomes apparent: it lies in taking the causes of nationalism to be the causes of sport. On this logic, sport and nationalism are essentially akin; they are necessarily bound together in virtue of sharing a cause – when in truth their bond is contingent. Sport is essentially competitive, and for that reason it needs competitors; but competition needn’t be constructed along national or tribal lines. It’s possible to invest in a competition as a spectator without taking sides – simply hoping to see something great. And it’s possible to invest as a participant without identifying oneself with anything beyond the game.

THE COLLECTED ESSAYS, JOURNALISM AND LETTERS OF GEORGE ORWELL Volume IV In Front of Your Nose 1945-1950 Edited by SONIA ORWELL AND IAN ANGUS LONDON • SECKER & WARBURG Copyright © 1968 by Sonia Brownell Orwell First published in England 1968 by Martin Seeker & Warburg Limited 14 Carlisle Street, London Wl SBN: 436 35015 7 Printed in Great Britain by The Camelot Press Ltd., London and Southampton 40 Freedom of the Park as a state censorship. On the other hand, freedom of speech is real. On the platform, or in certain recognised open-air spaces like Hyde Park, you can say almost anything; and, what is perhaps more significant, no one is frightened to utter his true opinions in pubs, on the tops of buses, and so forth. The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper of the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them. The decline in the desire for intellectual liberty has not been so sharp as I would have predicted six years ago, when the war was starting, but still there has been a decline. The notion that certain opinions cannot safely be allowed a hearing is growing. It is given currency by intellectuals who confuse the issue by not distinguishing between democratic opposition and open rebellion, and it is reflected in our growing indifference to tyranny and injustice abroad. And even those who declare themselves to be in favour of freedom of opinion generally drop their claim when it is their own adversaries who are being persecuted. I am not suggesting that the arrest of five people for selling harmless newspapers is a major calamity. When you see what is happening in the world today, it hardly seems worth squealing about such a tiny incident. All the same, it is not a good symptom that such things should happen when the war is well over, and I should feel happier if this, and the long series of similar episodes that have preceded it, were capable of raising a genuine popular clamour, and not merely a mild flutter in sections of the minority press. Tribune, 7 December 1945 12. The Sporting Spirit Now that the brief visit of the Dynamo football team1 has come to an end, it is possible to say publicly what many thinking people were 1 The Moscow Dynamos, a Russian football team, toured Britain in the autumn of 1945 playing against leading British clubs. The Sporting Spirit 41 saying privately before the Dynamos ever arrived. That is, that sport is an unfailing cause of ill-will, and that if such a visit as this had any effect at all on Anglo-Soviet relations, it could only be to make them slightly worse than before. Even the newspapers have been unable to conceal the fact that at least two of the four matches played led to much bad feeling. At the Arsenal match, I am told by someone who was there, a British and a Russian player came to blows and the crowd booed the referee. The Glasgow match, someone else informs me, was simply a free-for-all from the start. And then there was the controversy, typical of our nationalistic age, about the composition of the Arsenal team. Was it really an all-England team, as claimed by the Russians, or merely a league team, as claimed by the British? And did the Dynamos end their tour abruptly in order to avoid playing an all-England team? As usual, everyone answers these questions according to his political predilections. Not quite everyone, however. I noted with interest, as an instance of the vicious passions that football provokes, that the sporting correspondent of the russophile News Chronicle took the anti-Russian line and maintained that Arsenal was not an all-England team. No doubt the controversy will continue to echo for years in the footnotes of history books. Meanwhile the result of the Dynamos’ tour, in so far as it has had any result, will have been to create fresh animosity on both sides. And how could it be otherwise? I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield. Even if one didn’t know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles. 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 42 The Sporting Spirit 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 The Sporting Spirit 43 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. If you wanted to add to the vast fund of ill-will existing in the world at this moment, you could hardly do it better than by a series of football matches between Jews and Arabs, Germans and Czechs, Indians and British, Russians and Poles, and Italians and Jugoslavs, each match to be watched by a mixed audience of 100,000 spectators. I do not, of course, suggest that sport is one of the main causes of international rivalry; big-scale sport is itself, I think, merely another effect of the causes that have produced nationalism. Still, you do make things worse by sending forth a team of eleven men, labelled as national champions, to do battle against some rival team, and allowing it to be felt on all sides that whichever nation is defeated will “lose face”. I hope, therefore, that we shan’t follow up the visit of the Dynamos by sending a British team to the USSR. If we must do so, then let us 44 The Sporting Spirit send a second-rate team which is sure to be beaten and cannot be claimed to represent Britain as a whole. There are quite enough real causes of trouble already, and we need not add to them by encouraging young men to kick each other on the shins amid the roars of infuriated spectators. Tribune, 14 December 1945; SB 13. Nonsense Poetry In many languages, it is said, there is no nonsense poetry, and there is not a great deal of it even in English. The bulk of it is in nursery rhymes and scraps of folk poetry, some of which may not have been strictly nonsensical at the start, but have become so because their original application has been forgotten, For example, the rhyme about Margery Daw: See-saw, Margery Daw, Dobbin shall have a new master. He shall have but a penny a day Because he can’t go any faster. Or the other version that I learned in Oxfordshire as a little boy: See-saw, Margery Daw, Sold her bed and lay upon straw. Wasn’t she a silly slut To sell her bed and lie upon dirt? It may be that there was once a real person called Margery Daw, and perhaps there was even a Dobbin who somehow came into the story. When Shakespeare makes Edgar in King Lear quote “Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill”, and similar fragments, he is uttering nonsense, but no doubt these fragments come from forgotten ballads in which they once had a meaning. The typical scrap of folk poetry which one quotes almost unconsciously is not exactly nonsense but a sort of musical comment on some recurring event, such as “One a penny, two a penny, Hot-Cross buns”, or “Polly, put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea”. Some of these seemingly frivolous rhymes actually express a deeply pessimistic view of life, the churchyard wisdom of the peasant. For instance: