Monday, January 21, 2008

Trainor Teaches: Why Sports are a War


Yet another article inspired by the NFL playoffs.

If you ever want to get a true sense of the modern Olympic movement, take the time to read David C Young's book The Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Revival. It is highly regarded as one of the two best books on the history of the Olympic movement. Learning ancient Greek and tireless decades of research lead to a great account of the Olympics ancient and modern.

One of the major themes discussed in the book is the characters that lead to the Olympics being restarted in 1896. While a french man, Pierre de Coubertin, is credited as the father of the modern Olympics, he naturally built on the work of others in his era who had similar goals. He's a legend today because of global vision, luck, and partners. William Penny Brookes is a much less celebrated name who did more to invent the modern movement than his French counterpart. You probably don't know either, but you know Brookes much less. :)

One common theme: They both saw sport as a way to ensure the health and fitness of their country's youth, who in turn would be better prepared for war as a result of such strategic games and events.

And that is why you have such comparisons between sports and war.

William Penny Brookes
Photo source:

The NFL is definitely a war. Physical and mental attrition. Strategy. Generals and leaders calling plays. Specialists. Ditto the NHL and ultimate.

Yes, our beloved hippy game is a game our army should approve of. Physical fitness. Motor skills and hand eye coordination. Strategy and team building. Everything but the bloodshed.

Given this, it's no wonder we use war analogies. It's silly to compare the atrocities of war to anything, but unlike most analogies or cliches used in sports, there's a lot of truth to it.

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