The Cult of Record


Strivings for records condition a specific (concrete historical) nature of sports competitions. A victory over the opponents is worthless without setting a record. It becomes a universal measure, alienated from man, for determining the performance (value), which means a peculiar „superior power“ to which man is submitted. A record is the market value of a sports result, and the prevailing logic in sport corresponds to the process of the reproduction of capital: the apsolutized principle of record corresponds to the apsolutized principle of profit. The increasing domination of the apsolutized principle of performance in sport has led to a gradual elimination of combative individualism, the corner-stone of the ideology of liberalism. It has nothing to do with the struggle between people for victory, but with a contest without contestants, where man fights „phantom“ records incarnated in the measuring instruments which are the symbols of a dehumanized and denaturalized „pace“ of the capitalist time. The history of the ancient Olympic Games is a succession of winners; the history of sport comes down to a linear increment of numbers to which the names of depersonalized „recorders“ are assigned. The apsolutized performance (record) acquires a mythical dimension: sports „achievements“ become the measure of „progress“ and „perfectioning“ of humankind and thus historical milestones. Simultaneously, the quantitative comparison becomes an „objective“ criterion for the distribution of positions on the social ladder of power, which appears in the form of Arnold’s elitist „theory of pyramid“ that Coubertin was to adopt: a hundred people should devote themselves to physical culture if fifty of them are to engage in sport; fifty people are to engage in sport if twenty of them are to specialize; twenty people are to specialize if five of them are to become capable of „astonishing bravery“ (prouesse étonnante). (2) The pyramid of success indicates a hierarchy of „natural selection“ in sport and a mechanistic logic of „contest“ which corresponds to the market „competition“ and „industrial society“. The qualitative measurement becomes a form of domination of „progress“ over man confirming its superiority and eternity. It is not a historical product, but a „fact“ which cannot be brought into question and thus is an instrument for training the oppressed how to accept inequality in society as something inevitable. At the same time, a record is not important as a human achievement, but as a means of proving the „progressive“ nature of the ruling order. As there are no medical or moral barriers to the progressistic principle citius, altius, fortius, it is clear that man’s „perfectioning“ leads to his (self) destruction. Sport crushes the modern (humanistic) idea of progress which involves qualitative leaps in the development of society, the affirmation of man as a being of freedom and the creation of a novum. It enables only (endless) quantitative shifts, advancing in the given spatial and time dimensions, which involves progressing without a progress.

In sport, there is an evident distinction between intellectual and physical labour, as well as specialization (at an increasingly early age). Each sport has a specific training technique, which means that each sport in a specific way cripples people both mentally and physically and turns them into specialized sportsmen-recorders. The one-sided sports activity leads to the hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other extremities, organs, bodily and mental functions. A sportsmen becomes a specific working force (a self-destructive character), a tool for labour (highly specialized machine) and material for processing (body as a raw material) – for producing a particular record. The bigger the gap between man’s biological powers and the record that must be reached, the more the sports training contributes to man’s self-alienation as a human being and the destruction of his individual dispositions and abilities. Based on the absolutized principle of performance, sport turned a healthy physical strain into an exertion that destroys man as a living being. A sportsman becomes a robot and as such a commodity on the market of sports show-business, while „sports technique“ becomes a technical form of the destruction of man’s natural and cultural being. The methods and means applied in sport are those used in the industrial production and modern science: sport is an engine for the production of recorders (records). The maxim „Recorders are born in vials!“ suggests the real nature of „top sport“ which is, as its name suggests, the highest challenge for sport generally. Behind technical terms and scientific formulations an industry of death is hiding: „top sport“ has become a supreme form of man’s destruction. Sport is a means by which man, as a biological and human being, turns into a mechanical device. At the same time, it brings about an ecocide conscious and ecocide relation of man to his (her) own body. The „competitive mind“ becomes a form of irrational processes of the capitalist reproduction which, by way of a „sports spirit“, are infused into man. The „aggressive animal nature“ is replaced by a self-destructive fanaticism.

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