Thursday

SPORT AS A PREPARATION FOR WAR

FROM Aldous Huxley "Ends And Means" (1937) pp.187 - 188

Sport can be either a preparation for war or, in some measure, a substitute for war; a trainer either of potential war-mongers or of potential peace-lovers ; an educative influence forming either militarists or men who will be ready and able to apply the principles of pacifism in every activity of life. It is for us to choose which pan the organized amusements of children and adults shall play. In the dictatorial countries the choice has been made, consciously and without compromise. Sport there is definitely a preparation for war doubly a preparation. It is used, first of all, to prepare children for die term of military slavery which they will have to serve when they come of age to train them in habits of endurance, courage, and co-ordinated effort, and to cultivate that esprit de corps, that group-vanity and group-pride which are the very foundations of the character of a good soldier. In the second place, it is used as an instrument of nationalistic propaganda. Football matches with teams belonging to foreign countries are treated as matters of national prestige; victory is hailed as a triumph over an enemy, a sign of racial or national superiority; a defeat is put down to foul play and treated almost as a casus belli. Optimistic theorists count sport as a bond between nations. In the present state of nationalistic feeling it is only another cause of international misunderstanding. The battles waged on the football field and the race-track are merely preliminaries to, and even contributory causes of, more serious contests. In a world that has no common religion or philosophy of life, but where every national group practises its own private idolatry, international football matches and athletic contests can do almost nothing but harm.

The choice of the dictators has been, as I have said, definite and uncompromising. They have decided that sport shall be used above all as a preparation for war. ...