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Louis Ades

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Why did humans invent sports and why do so many people love watching and playing competitive sports games?

I'm not asking why certain individuals are attracted to sports. Obviously people find it exciting, thrilling, entertaining etc. My question is why do people find it to be so exhilarating?? Why is it exciting? Why is it entertaining? Why do athletes enjoy sports so much? Is it simply the sublimation of our evolutionary drives in a way that is accepted by society? What are the psychological, historical, scientific, etc. reasons for us creating and participating in competitive sports?

Also, how do you think we can use the popularity of sports to make the world a better place?


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    Nov 28 2012: Can I recommend Brian Sutton-Smith's excellent book The Ambiguity of Play. It has the best thinking on the slippery topic of "play" and why we do it. He considers 7 major rhetorics of play and I see those rhetorics occurring in the conversation here.

    As to why we enjoy "watching" sport? I think there are many answers to that but one that interests me is beauty. Try this quote...

    “Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.
    The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.”
    David Foster-Wallace - Federer Both Flesh and Not.

    I'm quoting from the version in the book Federer Both Flesh and Not but there is another version here called Federer as Religious Experience http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/sports/playmagazine/20federer.html?pagewanted=all

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