The Esthetics of the Sports Spectacle


A sports spectacle is the climax of the sports esthetics. To direct a spectacle is the highest form of manipulation with highly developed technical equipment and scientific methods. A sports spectacle tends to raise the marginal to the level of fatal, in order to marginalize the crucial social issues and leave their „solution” to plutocracy. Sport is always pictured in an idealized form, as it is the incarnation of the basic principles of the ruling order. At the same time, the spectacle promotes sports commodities, which means that it is a market manifestation of the basic principles of capitalism. The purpose of contemporary sports spectacles is not to produce a religious relation of viewers to the ruling values of the existing world, something Coubertin insisted on, but to offer them a possibility of an (illusory) escape from everyday life. Sportsmen do not fight for genuine human values and do not encourage people to oppose injustice; they are the incarnations of the ruling values and as such are mythological characters with legendary features and biographies, similarly to „heroes” from national mythologies, and are the hallmark of the epoch. At the same time, they are the billboards of multinational concerns and symbols of their expansionist („victorious”) power, which means that they are a specific commodity designed to ensure the strategic ends of the ruling order. The esthetics of the spectacle has the same purpose, making sportsmen the incarnation of the ruling values and as such the symbols of capitalist paganism: to glorify the winner means to glorify the ruling order.

Sport is no longer the indicator of the developing capacities of the ruling order and thus the carrier of „progress“: its main role is to deal with the (critical) mind and perform a depolitization of the oppressed. The purpose of the sports spectacle is not to create a physically and mentally active man, but a profitable „spectator“ who will, in his leisure time, be pinned down to the TV set or will spend his „free time“ at stadiums and sports centers. The focus has been transferred from the ideological to the psychological level: sports spectacles serve to blind and „pacify“ people. The „grandeur“ of a sports spectacle corresponds to the miserable life of an ever bigger number of people. Everything is being done to blind the man deprived of his rights with glamour, offer him an opportunity to „experience“ and take part in something „big“ and run away from everyday gloominess. The „magnificent“ dimension of „winners“ is the other side of the humiliating social position of „losers“ (working class). The ruling establishment of capitalism has discarded the idea of a „happy world“, which for almost two centuries was the main ideological lure for working „masses“ deprived of their rights. Instead of the promised „better life“, those deprived of their rights are „offered“ increasingly bloody sports spectacles as the compensation for their increasingly bloody life – which is to „reconcile“ (Compte) them to the existing world and prevent them from becoming aware of its current (destructive) development. The stadium, as the most authentic space of modern man’s spiritual slavery, becomes a „space of freedom“ and the „oasis of happiness“, where modern cesars sit in “blue loges” not to watch the fights of modern gladiators, but to make sure that the „masses“ of those deprived of their rights are (still) under control.

In sport, the „beautiful“ is determined by the nature of the ruling order and not by universal human values. The victory achieved by an ever better result (record) is the basic criterion for determining the „beautiful“ – and this is being imposed as the ruling „esthetic“ model („sports body“, „sports image“). The „beautiful“ has a positivist determination and is attributed to anything that symbolizes and glorifies the existing world and the ruling values: it is an attribute of the „victorious spirit“. Hence the highest „beauty“ is the body in combative exertion. A „sports body“ does not emanate spirituality, nobleness or naturalness, but a dehumanized and denaturalized (destructive) strength. Sportsmen are at the front line of the increasingly ruthless economic war and are reduced to a circus-gladiator billboard. Instead of a winner whose eyes have a look of the „magnificent beast“ (Hitler) with a „passionate cry“ (Coubertin), we have a sportsman who is in the functional unity with the „victorious strategy“ of capitalist concerns. The esthetics of the sports space indicates the truth that the basic purpose of sport is not to create a „healthy body“ and thus a „healthy spirit“, but to produce a man suited to the nature of the ruling order. Stadiums, sports centers, body-building and fitness-centers are modern Procrustean forest mutilating man’s natural being and destroying Eros, imagination, the feeling of being part of the human community… Sports esthetics is a spectacular manifestation of slavery and destruction of humanity.

Capitalism has abolished “paradise” in heaven and has created numerous illusory worlds which enable people to escape from life – which is becoming a capitalist “hell”. Instead of a universal illusion offered by Christianity, man can choose between virtual worlds which have become a commodity on the ever bigger market of illusions. „Freedom“ is reduced to an escape from the existing world. Capitalistically degenerated art transfers into the world of symbols whatever appears as a concrete human need: the struggle for a „nice world“ replaces the struggle for a just world. In it, creative powers become a power alienated from man which draws libertarian spirit from life and degenerates it by way of symbolism in which it acquires a caricatured and Don-Quixotean form. „Masterpieces“ of art become a highly concentrated power alienated from man, and a suprahistorical criterion for determining the „human“, which means an instrument for man’s spiritual submission. A „profusion of artistic expressions“, which are of a commercial character and technical form, is the other side of the spiritual misery in society. Beaux-arts are the ideological mask of a hopelessly ugly world ruled by the principle „Money does not stink!“, which is based on the destruction of life. „Artistic galleries“ are ghettoes for art. Outside galleries we have increasingly primitive and aggressive symbols of the ruling order. The whole life space has become a billboard of capitalism. Man is deprived of the right to illusion: it does not have only anti-libertarian, but above all an anti-existential character.

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