The sporting spirit
How does the writer describe sport at the international level?
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 would could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the hattlefield. 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 if 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 a 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 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.
现在开展的体育运动几乎都是竞争性的。参加比赛就是为了取胜。如果不拚命去赢，比赛就没有什么意义了。 在乡间的草坪上，当你随意组成两个队，并且不涉及任何地方情绪时，那才可能是单纯的为了娱乐和锻炼而进行比赛。可是一量涉及到荣誉问题，一旦你想到你和某一团体会因为你输而丢脸时，那么最野蛮的争斗天性便会激发起来。即使是仅仅参加过学校足球赛的人也有种体会。在国际比赛中，体育简直是一场模拟战争。但是，要紧的还不是运动员的行为，而是观众的态度，以及观众身后各个国家的态度。面对着这些荒唐的比赛，参赛的各个国家会如痴如狂，甚至煞有介事地相信 -- 至少在短期内如此 -- 跑跑、跳跳、踢踢球是对一个民族品德素质的检验。