A Short History of Sports
A not so politically correct and not so serious guide through the sports movement
In the earlier days of humankind, humans did what the animals still do today: fight each other. The change came when in 490 BC when Pheidippides ran 42 km from Marathon to
So they started to celebrate regular sports games in
Things changed after the Greeks invented centrifugal force. They used this knowledge to introduce hammer throwing. When turning around rather quickly, these centrifugal forces had their effect not only on the hammer, but also on "items" much (much)closer to the body. This led to the invention of trunks, and, over time, to many more inventions covering the body for special purposes – but that's another conversation!
After a good start, people started to fight each other again, and the sports movement temporarily died. To be more precise, it was pretty much dead until the end of the 19th century AD. Since the French Revolution had rendered nobility useless (at least in
This sparked a completely new development in sports, and moved it from an activity which happened basically outside of society to one of the center points of society. People started to recognize that sports activities are not only good for the body but can also achieve societal and political goals. On one hand, it helped recognition of the existence and capabilities of minority groups
It was during this time that sports was discovered as a means of political will. That had good sides, and bad sides. The old Romans said already “Mens
But before we analyze that statement further, we need to recognize that there are indeed two sports movements: One which develops publicly right in front of our eyes, and the other much larger one which is extremely widespread and healthy for young and older people alike: sports in the private sphere, in the many, many schools, clubs and, yes, streets, supported by enthusiastic parents and friends and volunteer coaches. These are the true heroes, following the Olympic traditions of the Greek, using the body as it was created by God (the only difference being that the Greeks thought that were several gods…..) and eating and drinking what is provided to us, and doing all of this with the mentality that the most important issue is participation – but still being happy if they win a price in a healthy competition.
Now we arrive at the ugly side of sports. The aspect of sport which is exposed in public, where the most important thing is not participation, but winning – the latter only because if you win, you get money, and recognition, and thus, more money. Everything in public sports today is subjugated to money. And since that is so, it destroys everything which was once good – and since the end justifies the means, everything appears to be allowed. This can be divided into two categories: the equipment, and nutrition/medication. Gone are the days when competition meant that everybody has the same chance...the level playing field.
In terms of equipment, the newest example relates to the swimsuits of swimmers. For the recent World Championships in swimming, some of the equipment suppliers developed a new fabric and a new full-body shape (which took the athletes a good half hour to get into), resulting in some sort of floating on the water, and thus, several dozen (!!) new world records. Under pressure, the corresponding association, to their credit, acted, and the new fabrics are not allowed any longer as of beginning of 2010. But they have also not said what is allowed. Generally, the days that everybody could afford to do sports are gone – except if you join a sports club, or just simply play soccer on the streets of Sao Paolo or
Here is the even much bigger problem: Nutrition/medication, aka doping. These days, doping has become a hi-tech industry which operates in Mafia-like manner. It is operated underground, in the obscurity of hotel rooms, labs in obscure and less obscure countries, involving obscure or less obscure doctors – and that is the frightening part of it. Sophisticated labs are involved, and the newest achievements of blood doping are years ahead of any method of detection.
A lot of money is flowing under the table and that money needs to be earned. In other words, it would not be possible, if huge amounts weren't at stake for wins in certain competitions. So, there are the interests of the individuals and their advisors (middlemen). But to make things more complicated, the interests of whole countries are at stake. How could the following situation have possibly develop?: The medal ranking of the countries participating in the Track & Field World Championships currently happening in Berlin/Germany was the following on 8/20/2009: 1.
Numerous incidents in any sports known to man, even in disciplines where one would never suspect any doping, such as shooting, lead us to believe that the “time of innocence” is over. The Tour de France has become the “Tour de Farce”, everybody knows that. The big sports in the
The unfortunate persons caught in the middle are those who play by the rules, participating in sports because they love it, work very hard, and still don’t make it because their colleagues are cheating, or those athletes who participate in some obscure, but very challenging, types of sport, who never make it into the limelight because the media are only supporting those sports where there is something in it for them (money from advertisers).
Here is what I think: We need to try to turn the clock back, back to the times of the old Greeks or the first part of the 20th century. This would involve no more prize money for “real sport”, and fair competition under the same conditions for all athletes.
But this is not all: To demonstrate how complex this whole matter has become, let’s finish the sports outlook with the very sad story of this young lady (if you can call her that) who won the gold medal for running 800 m in Berlin in a fabulous time. It turns out that she might possess Y chromosomes and that she is somewhere between man and woman (see picture), but should certainly not have run as a woman. The primary guilt for her entry as a woman lies with the South African T&F Association – they should not have brought her forward since the problem was known, but instead now they are crying foul and claiming racism. The poor woman, by the way, is upset that she was even asked to run and then had this happen; she wants to go home where she's loved as a daughter and forget all of this. The idea of running men as women is not new. During the old communist times, many athletes from the Warsaw Pact states were physically men, but the states had them appear in the women category. That is what I mean when talking about using sports for political purposes, very often on the back of the athletes. This is what has become of this wonderful Olympic idea created by the Greeks. Fortunately, the original higher ideals are still followed by millions of people worldwide who do what is right and play by the rules, quietly and without money. With doping and commercialism and all else I've discussed here, it's sad to say that those higher ideals seem to no longer exist in professional competitive sports.
This illustration says it all....a Samoan woman competing at the Berlin Track and Field event which just took place, heavy and seemingly unfit but TRYING HER BEST, no dope, no nothing but her training and grit. That's the true nature of sports, right? Or should be?