Spanning centuries, sport competitions likely arose initially as preparation to repel invasion or assault by lawless groups/individuals or as a survival strategy; the idea being to stay in a continual state of physical and mental readiness to repel those who would attack to destroy life and property. They also likely involved elements of competition for prizes when not a part of military defense or conquest, the spoils of conquest being another form of prize.
It is significant to distinguish between physical competitions as good-natured challenges for the sake of competition and those that function as rehearsal for the purposes of injuring, disabling, maiming, or killing the opponents in preparation for military combat or aggression against others. Curbing or sublimating aggressive tendencies would be the goal of the former, while unleashing them would be the goal of the latter.
In addition to the more obvious physical and mental conditioning these “games” provide, the gradual shift in thinking in society as a whole towards acceptance of increasingly aggressive and brutal action is also important to consider. Some wonder if fiction like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy take us further into accepting violence or aggressive behavior.
The common meaning of “bloodsport” involves shedding blood and/or killing an animal or person. The objective of the encounter is to make the opponent bleed or die. Many sporting activities may have a side effect of spilled blood or physical injury as a part of the game (being hit in the face by a basketball and getting a bloody nose), wherein bloodsport competitions include an intent to shed the opponent’s blood as part of the strategy (punching a boxing opponent in the face and spilling blood can obscure his vision and impair his ability). However, competitions for the purpose of killing an opponent remain illegal in most modern, civilized societies.
Such “games” have been played for millennia, so a look at some can give us perspective. [Read more…]