Sport and Culture

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In the philosophy of play it is generally agreed that play is one of the most important pillars of culture. The analysis of concrete views on play indicates that no difference is made between culture and civilization. More precisely, the discussion on play comes down to a delusory rhetoric which, through humanistic phrases, is to give “cultural” legitimacy to the phenomena which are essentially anticultural. Hence it is no surprise that the philosophy of play attaches great importance to sport as a specific play in which the “cultural heritage of mankind has been preserved”. Accordingly, stadiums and sports halls become the temples of “culture”, and sportsmen the “bearers of the highest cultural values”. As sport, through its politization and commercialization, becomes more and more anticultural, so do the masters of sport more and more aggressively seek to disguise sports spectacles in the veil of “culture” and thus prove that sport, as a symbolic expression of the basic principles of capitalism, belongs to the “highest cultural achievements”. The “cultural programme”, which regularly follows the opening of the Olympic Games – in which enormous sums of money are invested and the most modern technique is used – is nothing else but a “grandiose” expression of a megalomaniac primitivism of their organizers designed to blind man and destroy his visionary mind. Today’s sport has fully realized the endeavours of the ruling order, ever more dominant in other social areas, to create a surrogate of “culture” by which the emancipatory heritage of civil society and man’s libertarian dignity will be destroyed. Man’s becoming a “cultural being” comes down to his cooperation in crushing man’s authentic human needs and capacities. As a result of the ever more ruthless economic war, the capital not only strives to reduce culture to its advertising programme, but to submit man’s conscious, his behaviour, interpersonal relations, practically the entire social life, to his own interests. It is about the creation of a surrogate life corresponded by a “consumer culture of living”, a “new” form of paganism reduced to the glorification of the existing world. Sport becomes a spectacular form of worshipping a surrogate life. Unlike other areas which “cover” the so called “free time”, such as music, theatre and other segments of what is referred to as the “cultural sphere”, offering possibilities of a critical confrontation with the existing world and the creation of the idea of a better (humane) world, sport as an institution is the ideological expression of the existing world and thus crushes the idea of future. The philosophical basis of sport is positivism, which, as shown in Marcuse, beginning with Auguste Comte, has led to fascism. On these authoritarian spiritual and political grounds a sports movement developed. Sport is not an expression of the cultural (emancipatory) heritage of modern society; it is an authentic expression of a life based on Social Darwinism and progressism, and thus is the most important tool for the creation of a “new man”, whose advent symbolically suggests the end of the “old” and the beginning of a “positive world” in which the cultural heritage of mankind is abolished. At the same time, sport destroys the traditional forms of physical culture. It can be illustrated on the example of karate and other martial arts of feudal Japan, which are, reduced to “sports competition”, deprived of the cultural (religious) essence and have become a capitalistically degenerated (decultivated/denaturalized) contest. Interestingly, the views of leading theoreticians of “real socialism” on sport are almost identical to the views of bourgeois theoreticians. Matveev’s conclusion is typical in that respect: “Sport historically appears, most probably, as one of the oldest components of the general human culture.” (1)

Sport has become one of the most important means for destroying culture. It is given an ever larger space in media at the expense of culture: sports spectacles have become the most important “spiritual food” for the “masses”. The proportion of payments received by teachers and sportsmen respectively most obviously shows the tendency of development of the contemporary world. In the beginning of 1970s in Yugoslavia, teachers in secondary schools received approximately equal payments as the leading basketball players. By the end of the XX century, the most popular basketball players received 1 million Deutsch marks per season, while teachers received 250 Deutsch marks per month. A similar proportion can be found as regards teachers and sportsmen in sports which make the core of sports show-business, established both in Europe and the USA. It is no accident that in the USA almost one hundred million citizens are illiterate, while in England, the cradle of capitalism, over 25% of citizens cannot use the English script.

A direct link between the development of sports show-business and decline in the cultural level of citizens in developed capitalist countries can be proved statistically. It is of utmost importance for the political structuring of society as well as for the overall social development, since decultivation of citizens, especially the working population which is ever more deprived of their rights, has become the most important way of their depolitization. The creation of massive idiocy is a strategic landmark of the bourgeoisie in its hopeless strivings to prevent the disintegration of capitalism. This is why sport has a paramount political importance.

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