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Lucian Asks, Why Sports? (180 CE) (laphamsquarterly.org)
17 points by pepys 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments



The date may be off by a few hundred years, but isn't the essential message of sports the same?

We must win, and they must lose. They are not us, and when we win, as we surely will do, they will not share in our winnings. The glory is ours, for defeating our foes.

That's true, isn't it? That's what I was taught in high school. How could that other school's foolish imitation of a "sports" team ever compete with ours? We are superior, and any challengers will be defeated in battle.

I didn't learn this very well. I was happy enough with my ham radios and Teletype machines. Alas, I didn't get the girls like the jocks did. They were the winners. I was just another nerd.

This was in 1969. Maybe it is different today.


That is one reading. A more nuanced reading is found in the cliche: 'It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.'

I believe that sports serve as a teacher of morality to the masculine aspect.

> "Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football (soccer).”

― Albert Camus


The date for this one is an estimate based on Lucian's lifespan; looks like the good people at Lapham's Quarterly were mistaken in attributing it to c. 590 Athens, seeing as how he wrote during the Roman Empire. He did set the fictional dialogue in the Athens of that time though.


In case you were wondering who the protagonsists are:

Anacharsis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacharsis

Solon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solon




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