By David Sansone
How is game in modern society on the topic of game in prior civilizations? Why is the expenditure of power excited by recreation thought of exhilarating, whereas the identical expenditure of power in different contexts will be dispiriting? David Sansone bargains solutions to those questions and advances a progressive thesis to account for the common phenomenon of game. Drawing upon ethnological findings to illustrate the ritual personality of recreation, he explores the connection among historical Greek recreation and sacrificial ritual and strains components universal to either again to primitive origins.
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Additional info for Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport
Beisser, The Madness in Sports: Psychosocial Observations on Sports (New York, 1967) 161, 18491; G. Vinnai, Fussballsport als Ideologie (Frankfurt am Main, 1970) 8395. html [13-02-2009 20:08:44] page_33 < previous page page_33 next page > Page 33 is to keep the ball out of the hands of the opposition, of games (like American football) the object of which is to occupy and extend one's possession of territory. and while we may not be convinced that the redirection of aggression is "the most important function" of sport, it is clearly one of the features of sport that makes sport a valuable item in the repertory of human activities and that helps to ensure the persistence of sport.
Whether the team is regional (as in the case of modern football teams or in the case of the national teams at the Olympic Games) or is based upon some other principle of organization seems to make little difference. The racing fans of ancient Rome divided themselves into supporters of the 37. I. Weiler, Der Agon im Mythos (Darmstadt, 1974) 20917, 25658. 38. Frazer, Magic Art II 300308. 39. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Love and Hate 16468. 40. Ibid. 16768; van der Leeuw, Religion in Essence and Manifestation 35658.
The important point here is that a practice that was once intended to bring about fecundity by magical means at the time of the vernal equinox persists even in a society that employs chemical fertilizers to enhance the fecundity of its fields and of its women, and even in connection with the celebration of a festival characteristic of a religion that, most of its adherents would assert, is totally divorced from magical practice. And just as most Christians would deny that their practice of coloring Easter eggs has anything to do with the magical practices of pagan antiquity, so most (indeed, perhaps all) athletes today would deny that the footraces in which they compete have any connection with races run by primitive peoples for the purpose of encouraging rainfall or improving the fertility of crops.
Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport by David Sansone