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11 review for Blood and Guts: Violence in Sports

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    We live in violent times - a cliche, but true nevertheless. In the decade from 1958 to 1968 (exactly the years during which pro football rose to unassailable popularity) violent crime in the United States increased by 100 percent. Since then it has continued to rise. Each year fifteen thousand Americans are murdered. In other western countries, although crime is generally on a far smaller scale, recent decades have also seen a marked tendency toward violence. In the United Kingdom the rate of indi We live in violent times - a cliche, but true nevertheless. In the decade from 1958 to 1968 (exactly the years during which pro football rose to unassailable popularity) violent crime in the United States increased by 100 percent. Since then it has continued to rise. Each year fifteen thousand Americans are murdered. In other western countries, although crime is generally on a far smaller scale, recent decades have also seen a marked tendency toward violence. In the United Kingdom the rate of indictable crime almost doubled during the years from i960 to 1970, and over the quarter-century since 1951 violence against individuals increased ten-fold. As H. Rap Brown once said, "Violence is as American as apple pie." It is now fast becoming the national dish of other countries as well. Against this background of rising social violence, the level of violence in sport has also increased dramatically until it has now, in many instances, reached Roman proportions. Under the dictates of our exploitive age we have turned great areas of play into theaters of blood, attracting an audience which is even more Roman than the Romans. Our sportsmen no longer purposely strive to slaughter each other, but we often attend in the hope that they will. We do not callously use "subhuman" slaves to entertain us with their blood, but we distance ourselves from our own gladiators through television so that they are deemed expendable, something less than human. We do not force athletes into blood sports against their will, but we have made the rewards so enticing that there are now any number of participants willing to risk their limbs and their lives for our benefit. Whether press ganged or paid, they provide the same end result: violence and bloodshed for the delectation of others. Our sporting entertainments give the lie to the popular belief that blood spectacles are the sole prerogative of civilizations that are losing their grip. We the sophisticates of the modern age have become super connoisseurs of sporting violence. It would be fatuous to blame our societies' violence on our violent sports, as fatuous as expecting sport to carry the burden of our private and national pride without its exploding in our faces. However, as Sipes and his colleagues have indicated, it is no longer just enough to excuse the brutality of sport by regarding it as merely a reflection of the violent society which surrounds it. The evidence seems overwhelming that the link between violent sport and violence in society is much greater than that of just a mirror and its image. Sport as catharsis is a myth ; sport as another bullet in the chamber of social violence is a grave probability. Which leads to the inevitable question : Can we afford to blithely follow the line of sporting violence without any regard for the consequences ? Do we really need to perpetuate war games when the age in which wars were battles between athletes have long since passed ? Can we, in view of the violence which so often stems from them, continue to risk violent sports? In my opinion we can't. Which does not mean that we should immediately reject our traditional games and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into frisbee. Some of our most overtly violent sports - football, ice hockey - seem to me to be eminently redeemable. The fault that they are so fearsomely brutal lies not with the games themselves, but with the burdens we have placed upon them - the wild-eyed craving for petty two-hour Saturday and Sunday afternoon victories; the demand for masculinity by proxy; the desire for blood. Stripped of these burdens they would still be fascinating and delightful games - skillful, cooperative and as much a pleasure to watch as to play. They would also be infinitely less lethal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna Marie

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Tran

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ali

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mariella Hili

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barry

  10. 4 out of 5

    MJT

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben

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