Get help from the best in academic writing.

Sport as a Substitute for War

“Sport is such a pervasive human activity that to ignore it is to overlook one of the most significant aspects of contemporary American society. It is a social phenomenon which extends into education, politics, economics, art, the mass media, and even international diplomatic relations. Involvement in sport, either directly as a participant, or indirectly as a spectator, is almost considered a public duty by many Americans. It has been observed that if there is a religion in America today, it is sport.” (Sage 1974)

Society views sporting events and game-playing as a means of fun, physical exercise, and even relaxation. In reality, sport has become the primary substitute for war in a society that seemingly thrives on the need to continually engage in conflict. It would be difficult to view a football or soccer game today without noting the violent similarities between these sports and open warfare. Symbolic associations exist in addition to the obvious physical comparisons of sport and war. We have only to look at the names of sports teams today to see the most prominent use of aggressive and conflictive symbolism. However, the opportunity to engage in battle has been largely suppressed in the face of current world peace treaties. In its stead, sport has evolved into a war-like pastime. Numerous images throughout history support the unmistakable associations between sport and war. Given the similar overtones of aggressiveness and calculated violence in both, these inferences can be taken one step further by theorizing that sport is a direct descendant of open warfare and is, in fact, a derivative of war.

Specific steps must be taken in order to reach an understanding of the complex relationship between sport and war. Explor…

… middle of paper …

…pes, Richard H. “War, sports, and aggression: An empirical test of two rival theories” American Anthropologist 1973, Vol. 75, p. 64-86

Works Consulted

Brady, James. “Part Sport, Part Crusade” Advertising Age 06/28/93, Vol. 64 Issue 27, p. 31 (Editorial 3/4 page)

Civil War Maps. (Online) Available:

Gorn, Elliott J., and Goldstein, Warren. A Brief History of American Sports United States: Hill and Wang, 1993

Jones, Stephen G. Sport, Politics and the Working Class: organised labour and sport in inter-war Britian New York: Manchester University Press, 1988

Mazarr, Michael J. Desert Storm: the Gulf War and What We Learned” Boulder: Westview Press, 1993

Noverr, Douglas A., and Ziewacz, Lawrence E. The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865-1980 Chicago, Illinois: Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1983

Runner’s High

If nothing else before has motivated the slothful to take up an active lifestyle, perhaps the promise of a natural high will finally lure couch potatoes away from the tube and into the gym. For years, long distance joggers and runners have reported feelings of euphoria replacing the pain of physical exertion caused by long bouts of exercise. This euphoria gives them a feeling of effortless movement and has become a mythical goal known as “the zone.” (Goldberg 1988) This speculation of the existence of “runner’s high” has even inspired a legal controversy – in 1992, a jogger who was hit by a car brought a lawsuit against the driver. The driver’s attorney claimed that the jogger had acted recklessly when crossing the intersection where the accident happened – euphoria brought upon by an extended period of exercise was responsible for giving the jogger a false sense of invincibility. (Shephard 1992)

Whether or not this “runner’s high” physically exists is a topic of heated debate in the scientific community. Scientists have seen many instances in which exercise has benefited the mental health of people. For one thing, physical activity can greatly improve one’s self-esteem. Studies conducted on both children and clinically depressed patients show marked improvement in self-esteem, following aerobic and anaerobic exercise training. (Biddle and Mutrie 1991) Exercise does this because it creates a situation in which the participant learns to master a task, thus achieving a feeling of control over their life. Thus, exercise helps to do undo depression, which according to the “learned helplessness” theory of depression, is caused by recurring instances in which patients have no sense of control over the outcome.

The problem is, is there a biochemical explanation for this “runner’s high,” or is it a purely psychological event (although one can also say psychology is biochemical)? Exercise addiction, similar to substance addiction, seems to suggest that jogger’s euphoria could be biochemical. There have been accounts of runners who experience withdrawal symptoms when not exercising – such as edginess, anxiety, and other unpleasant feelings. Research shows that the body produces its own opiate-like peptides, called endorphins, and like morphine, they can cause dependence (Farrell et al. 1982). Thus, this is just one hint suggesting that these “endogenous morphine” compounds may be the chemicals causing all these psychological effects of exercise. In general, endorphins are known to be responsible for pain and pleasure responses in the central nervous system.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.