Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"The Dawkins of Sport"

I hate sport.

I believe I've said so before, but I just don't get it. My main issue is with the whole idea of competition - how we rate win or loss. We teach sport in schools to encourage teamwork and how to cope with success and failure, and to develop competitive skills. Part of my task as a teacher in loco parentis is to prepare my wards for the real world and the reality of competition, of the reality of one job and a thousand applicants, of the reality of standing head and shoulders above the rest.

I don't understand it. Surely this is a symptom of a fallen world in which resources are fought for rather than shared as everyone has need. That's the ideal, surely - naive perhaps, but ultimately more stable if everyone buys into it. However, if not everyone buys into it, then the vision becomes unstable. So why not stop teaching sport in school? Why not encourage non-competitive exercise such as gymnastics or swimming to keep the body healthy, and then some kind of construction project, or cleaning the school, community service, musical activities et c? This way we would reduce the sense of tribalism that sports teams engender, encourage a vision of unity of purpose and co-operation, and fundamentally reduce the fighting between groups.

It seems that our idea of sport is merely a by-product of our evolutionary past in competing for a resource. Now that we have, by and large in the West, control over our resources (perhaps to the detriment of others in the World) Sport remains an outlet for our primitive urges to compete. We're surely above that now and we should, given the amount of fighting that comes from competitive tendencies, jettison the idea that Sport is anything other than a crutch for our primitive urges and should be removed as soon as possible if we should hope to progress as a species.

Does this sound like a reasonable argument?

If I were able to put this plan into action, could I be accused of indoctrination?

Perhaps, this approach is merely symptomatic of a crutch that I might possess about winning or losing. Perhaps I am so obsessed with the pressure of winning that I try to remove that pressure by excising the very thing that's causing me the problem. In which case, which way of life is the crutch: a world with competition in which our primitive urges are exercised and in which the pain of loss is as real as the exhilaration of success, or a world without competition in which the fear of failure and loss is removed?

I will admit to perhaps being something akin to the "Dawkins of Sport". I don't see the value of Sport based upon the arbitrariness of Success and Failure as defined by humanity. However, I really don't expect my views to be shared nor really, do I seek to make my colleagues in the Sports' department redundant. I concede that there are values in Sport that I may not comprehend but which are healthy and good. However, I am content not to possess these values.

Of course, Religion is seen as a pathology or sickness and a means of indoctrination by those who do not understand it. However, there does not seem to be a good argument as to why Atheism is not a pathology or sickness and a form of indoctrination. I've said before that Atheism and Agnosticism are as much a belief system as any other Religion or Philosophy. There are always assumptions which can be questioned most legitimately and reasonably even at the fundamental basis of any form of Science. As a schoolmaster, I indoctrinate my students into the ways of mathematics though perhaps I will reveal to them my concerns that there is tension between mathematics as a rational system and as a basis for empirical enquiry. I am a professional indoctrinator, so are my colleagues in the History department, but I am not going to say that their indoctrination is invalid because they cannot test their theories. We cannot KNOW historical events in the same way as we KNOW scientific results which are different from KNOWING that 2 + 2 = 4.

However, the worrying side of indoctrination must come when that doctrine prevents people from co-operating with, or even simply operating in Society. A creed which seeks to destroy Society as a forum in which any person can function and find value and love is one that requires a much greater scrutiny and from which much must be demanded if it demands so much.

1 comment:

Fr Anthony said...

I also hated competitive sports at school, but enjoyed rowing, swimming, cycling and shooting - and fishing. I still enjoy cycling, sailing and walking. I discovered the concept of dinghy cruising which opened up another dimension of sailing like in bigger boats.

Sport should be about keeping in good health and enjoying outdoor life, not "success".

We seem be to very much of like mind philosophically.