What does not kill you is a sport

J. Ostwald at Skulking in Holes and Corners posted a very thoughtful entry on the metaphor of war and modern sport. The tendency to use the visual language of warfare in the context of sport has a long history and, as Ostwald deftly explains, it says a great deal about popular understanding of sport and war in a complex way. The cynic might say that this use of bellicose language is little more than a ploy to make something largely irrelevant (large-scale commercial sports leagues) into something both visceral and meaningful by close association with abstract martial symbolism and an audience that is predominantly a passive observer of both sport and war. I’m something of a cynic, but that rarely produces interesting writing so I’ll take a slightly different tack, down the related path of violence as sport (or sport as violence).

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