The Sporting Life

Elliot had a great comment on the sports, courage, and risk discussion, and I wanted to pull it up to the top level in case you aren’t checking the thread.  He wrote:

So, someone down below suggested that all of this silliness might be chalked up to Leah’s “gnostic tendencies”. I have similar tendencies, though they might be better called “puritan” than “gnostic”. Still, I don’t think either of these is really behind the discussion at hand.

The great thing about virtue is that it’s flexible. Sport is good. Activity done for the sake of diversion falls under the virtue of eutrapelia (cf. Summa Theologiae 2a 2ae q.168), and is analogous to physical rest and relaxation. The mind (like the body) just can’t be working all the time, so there is an excellence in finding suitable modes of relaxation and doing well with them. These consist of play, humor, wittiness, games, etc. In the absence of these, we become like all those characters in The Scarlet Letter, and life takes a turn for the worse. Even the famously ascetical Desert Fathers of early Christianity recognized the importance of play. (If you bend the bow too far, it will break.) So I’m not saying, and I’m sure Leah’s not saying, that football is to be universally prohibited, or that any leisure activity involving any significant degree of physical risk is immoral.

You may have noticed that I’ve been saying “sport” consistently, and not “sports”. This has semantic significance. Sport is activity done for the sake of diversion. Sports are specific games involving the competitive use of a physical skill, normally in a highly organized setting, often at high stakes. What I would like to suggest is that Sport, as I have described it here, has become mostly distinct from Sports as practiced in our culture. I suspect that this is what people are gesturing toward when they complain about the professionalization of child sports teams (the stock little league dad screaming at his son, the kids wearing their all-too-real uniforms and receiving all-too-earnest chiding and corrective advice from their coaches) or the absence of spontaneity in the typical middle-American boy’s experience of these games. I have already touched on the ways even things like this can be good for kids and help develop certain virtues. But what’s clear is that turning a frivolous game into a matter of significant import in your life (as a child or an adult) removes it to a very large extent (perhaps entirely) from the recreation that falls under eutrapelia. When a basketball game is the sort of thing you can cry about after losing, we can be sure that it wasn’t just a diversion. When playing (and thus the possibility of poor performance or loss) induces tension and worry in the player commensurate with a serious life-event, we’re not dealing with sport anymore.

So let me try to summarize. Activities done for the sake of diversion, to develop a skill that is wholly particular to the game in which it is used (chess, e.g.) are moderated by the virtue of eutrapelia: they are good for the recovery of the soul, for the kind of careless frivolity that enables one to more adequately turn toward serious things at other times. A casual game of football could easily fall under this category, and here we would want to regulate our way of playing and the extent to which we invest ourselves in playing in a way commensurate with the freedom and frivolity of play. On the other hand we have professional and quasi-professional way of doing sports, as practiced in schools and national leagues, in which games become a matter of serious serious consequence (moral or material) for players, and are no longer done merely for diversion, but as a kind of art. Here the virtues I have talked about in earlier comments come into play: virtues like fortitude and temperance, friendship and sacrifice, which aid in the cultivation of art, especially when others are involved. I remember attending hockey games when I was at Yale, and marveling at the excellence of the players’ coordination. There is a kind of glory in it, a luminosity or beauty similar to a dance, but perhaps improved by the fact that it is directed toward a definite end. But the question with the cultivation of any art, is what the value of one’s produce is, and to what extent the practice of that art is worthy of sacrifice and pain. This is a deep question which depends on a solid analysis of what is being done and what is produced. But now perhaps we can see why this question is comparable to questions about job-safety, and also why we ordinarily have so much trouble appreciating that. Sport is supposed to be something free from the ordinary interests and pursuits of everyday life. Any material or moral advantages gained from winning a football game are merely accidental and depend on the context. But once it has been professionalized, assuming it is not secretly part of a vestal cult or religious order, a game decisively enters the world of production and its value is open to question. In other words, since skill at football cannot sanely be pursued as a good in itself, the non-recreational player needs to determine its place within the broader hierarchy of ends, and determine whether the costs of playing (given the benefits of playing) are commensurate with the reasonable pursuit and acquisition of happiness. This is, in other words, the same question (almost exactly the same question) someone working in a cotton mill or a coal mine needs to ask, and something that those who have care of millers and miners need to ask to protect their well-being. I am personally not ready to answer it, but I think it’s worth sorting out all the issues so that we aren’t confused about the matter when we get down to it.

I love the distinction that Elliot is drawing, and I wish these two categories were more embedded in our casual conversations.  (A lot of Joe Nocera’s excellent op-eds defending players from the NCAA might not be needed if we’d admitted that those amateurs are doing sports, not sport).

If sports look like they might become your life, it’s time to pause and check if they strengthen you in your vocation or interfere with it.  It seems clear that the dementia, depression, and lack of impulse control triggered by CTE makes these football players and boxers worse fathers and husbands.  It’s not just a matter of freedom to self-harm; these sports are interfering with their duties to their families.  And pursuit of brain-damage really doesn’t seem like the kind of asceticism that would make a good foundation for a new monastic order.

Plenty of athletic arts do involve the mortification of the body (ballet, gymnastics, tennis, cycling, weightlifting, etc) in ways that don’t strike at the human ratio.  In some sports these grotesqueries are induced naturally (e.g. the stunted growth of gymnasts) and in others artificially (everything in cycling, apparently).  These are the kinds of sports where I think reasonable people can decide a trade-off in long term physical health or body morphology is worth it.

But I think it’s most likely to be worth it when the competitive sports are still tinged with the wonder of sport.  I’m a little chary of discipline for the sake of discipline or strength for the sake of strength.  If you’ve decided to do something very physically punishing, it should be because it either helps you move past the physical in some kind of spiritual way or because it opens up some particularly physical joy.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • http://www.jrganymede.com Adam G.

    No, I still have to think that both Elliot and Our Hostess are being gnostic here. Specifically, they are implicitly rejecting any notion of ‘manliness’ as positive in itself or having something essential to it different from being human or being sapient. Biology is just arbitrary.

    • Doragoon

      I would disagree that manliness in itself is a positive. Gentlemanly behaviour is normally regarded as the positive masculine attributes, and it’s intrinsically different than any behaviour expected of women. It’s a shame that we’ve lost the same kind of expectations for women, but it would be something like yamato nadeshiko. Men and women find honour in different pursuits. Not only that, but each can’t understand why the other sees honour in their particular pursuit. I’d say more, but I have a feeling all the pro-androgyny people have enough to attack already.

      But… Why is it that women can claim that men should have no say on abortion because it doesn’t effect them, but women are free to complain about men’s sports?

      • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

        A lot of the discussion here has framed sport/sports in a Catholic theology-of-the-body teleological setting (which I suppose is to be expected for a blog in the Catholic portal…. still getting used to that), but I haven’t really seen any discussion around the evolutionary psychology model of human behavior. If you view sports as an analogy for war (or more generally, play as an analogy for combat), then “playing throught the pain” suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.

        I’m definitely not advocating for the treatment of sports as “training for war” in the modern world, but I am saying that men are literally hard-wired to value “manliness” – being tough, playing through the pain, etc. Even if we’re not making the normative claim that “men should be manly” in todays world, the fact is that lots of men want to be manly. We value it as a matter of biology, just like we value height, strength, and the physical appearance of potential mates. All of these things have very little bearing on evolutionary fitness in our modern world.

        You could even go so far as to say that manliness is a fulfillment of our evolutionary telos- it’s quite literally what we were designed to do, regardless of whether the designer had any intentionality to it. Even if it’s no longer necessary for survival, that doesn’t mean it no longer has value. It has exactly as much value as we ascribe to it, just like any other non-selective characteristic. If “manliness” makes us happy or gives us fulfillment, then I would argue that it is indeed a positive in itself, in the same sense that physical beauty, art, music, etc. are positives unto themselves.

        • http://www.virtue-quest.com/ Robert King

          This may be a purely semantic distinction, but I don’t think that men are literally hard-wired to value “manliness”. We very well may be hard-wired for competitiveness, or aggression, or exertion, or something in that range. But I tend to think of “manliness” as a cultural category which proposes cultural markers of masculinity – which may or may not include competitiveness or aggression or exertion.

          Now, I suppose you could mean “manliness” as “the fullness of the nature of masculine humanity,” which would include an aspect of physical fulfillment. This would be a natural goal for any man – either from an evolutionary or an Aristotelian/Thomistic perspective.

          The question, then, is how to best express the nature of masculinity without doing harm to oneself or others. (If doing harm to oneself or others is “part of the nature of masculinity” then either one’s understanding of nature is wrong or there is no natural moral order.)

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            I don’t think it’s quite so easy to separate cultural markers of masculinity from evolutionary markers of masculinity. The markers of “manliness” are pretty consistent throughout different societies- at least as consistent as the ubiquitous “moral law” argument (not the user Ubiquitous… the actual word :)).

            The question, then, is how to best express the nature of masculinity without doing harm to oneself or others. (If doing harm to oneself or others is “part of the nature of masculinity” then either one’s understanding of nature is wrong or there is no natural moral order.)

            I think this is really the crux of the argument. “Harm” is not a one dimensional heurisitc. It might be worth doing a limited amount of physical harm to yourself to achieve some superior mental or spiritual good. I think of the average joe training for a marathon. The mental excercise of overcoming the pain and conditioning your body and mind to discipline is such that it outweighs the health risks that come along with training for and executing a race that the human body is pretty clearly not meant to do. I wouldn’t condemn someone training for a marathon as immoral, even if there’s a chance it will be bad for his body in the long run (get it? long run? :)).

            It seems like ultimately the anti-football (pro-mental-health?) crowd is making a judgement that football does more harm than good. Realistically, it’s pretty hard to argue that it does no harm or that it does no good.

    • deiseach

      Manliness is not the deliberate inflicition of injury for the purposes of entertainment. Look, I have two nephews, and when the first was born, my sister did the usual first-time-parent thing of dousing everything in antiseptic and being paranoid about dirt and germs, to the point where the rest of the family made jokes about no harm in a bit of ‘clean dirt’.

      There’s a difference between the normal rough-and-tumble of childhood play and exploration, where you might fall out of a tree and, God between us and all harm, break an arm – and the notion of inculcating “manliness” by making your child climb to the highest branch and then pulling him down so he’ll break his arm. After all, that’s a fast way to toughen him up!

      The difference is between the normal risks of engaging in professional sports and the avoidable harmful effects. Since American football has already developed to permit padded jerseys and helmets, what is the huge leap forward that will destroy the game by reducing the risk of concussions by banning deliberate attempts to injure players by bad tackles?

      “Chopper” Harris and the days of ‘going in high and late with the studs showing’ belong to the 70s and should be left there. Leah is not saying “Wrap them in cotton wool” or “Ban all sports more strenous than tiddlywinks”; she is saying “Why permit avoidable injuries?”

      I also take exception to this definition of “manliness” as it excludes women from having, inculcating or possessing these virtues; women, by this definition, cannot be brave, courageous, enduring, strong or long-suffering since only men can be manly and only men can experience physical hardship as an engendering of virtues of self-control, desire to excel, team spirit, and personal achievement.

      Chesterton has something, where talking about war and martial courage, he makes the point that for women, their battlefield and risk of death is the child bed. Well, thank God modern medicine has reduced maternal mortality. I don’t want to go back to the days when women were at risk of death through becoming pregnant because of the dangers associated with childbirth and afterwards the risk of death through puerperal fever. I see no reason why notions of building character through manliness need involve artificially retaining high risks that do no good in the long run; how manly is it to injure your own or someone else’s brain not for a life-and-death struggle of liberty or principle, but for a competition of athletics?

      • http://www.virtue-quest.com/ Robert King

        I also take exception to this definition of “manliness” as it excludes women from having, inculcating or possessing these virtues; women, by this definition, cannot be brave, courageous, enduring, strong or long-suffering since only men can be manly and only men can experience physical hardship as an engendering of virtues of self-control, desire to excel, team spirit, and personal achievement.

        I think there is a virtue in fullfilling the nature of masculine humanity that is different from the fulfillment of feminine humanity. But I agree that the virtues common to all humanity – such as courage, strength (moral, personal, or physical), drive for excellence, and so on – are not the defining feature of either of those virtues. The difference in virtue should be based in the difference between the sexes.

        The obvious differences between the sexes are relatively few. “Motherhood” is no part of the fulfillment of masculine nature – though caring for another and nurturing a child very likely are. It is difficult to sort out what aspects of masculinity and femininity are pure cultural constructs, and which are expressions (in this or that particular culture) of natural differences between the sexes. This is especially difficult today when so many simply assume that anything related to “gender” is purely a construct of culture, and therefore infinitely malleable according to human will.

        The virtue of “sportsmanship” and the desire to push the limits of human ability are clearly common to both sexes, though in American culture they are expressed slightly differently. Whether these differences are based on some real differences between men and women, or are mere conventions that might hinder true equity between the sexes… well, I’m not even sure where or how to begin untangling that problem.

  • http://www.NeverYetMelted.com David Zincavage

    ” It seems clear that the dementia, depression, and lack of impulse control triggered by CTE makes these football players and boxers worse fathers and husbands. It’s not just a matter of freedom to self-harm; these sports are interfering with their duties to their families.”

    indulges in fantasy stereotypes crossing the boundary-line of open bigotry.

    • http://www.virtue-quest.com/ Robert King

      Not sure what “fantasy stereotypes” you’re talking about here. Do you mean that it’s bigotry to have duties toward one’s spouse and children?

      • http://paraphasic.blogspot.com Elliot

        I suspect that it’s bigotry to draw causal connections between one’s chosen life-identity and one’s relationships with others. Implying that freely chosen behavior has moral implications is reductive and really fails to respect every individual’s right to self-definition without being judged.

        Also, is there really such a thing as “good fatherhood”? Isn’t this just a category invented by the 19th century bourgeoisie to consolidate their power over labor-eligible men, families, children? Isn’t fatherhood itself just a fiction fixed within the discourse of our civilization, a lingering fetter of a mythological age sustained by the competitive impulses which suffuse our preferences and thoughts?

        • Brandon B

          “Implying that freely chosen behavior has moral implications is reductive and really fails to respect every individual’s right to self-definition without being judged.”

          Could you explain how this is an objection? In most moral frameworks that I’m familiar with, every single choice has moral implications, though sometimes the implications are de minimis. For virtue ethics in particular, choices that contribute to self-definition are particularly important, because it’s all about cultivating virtue and becoming a virtuous person. The way that a virtue ethicist analyzes morality, self-definition is exactly the sort of of thing that should be judged.

          I also wonder if you are conflating two things: “being judged” and “being morally right/morally wrong”. Sometimes people do harm by being judgmental, but if morality is objective, then moral wrongs exists whether or not someone points it out. Accordingly, there may be some sort of “right to not be judged”, but there isn’t a “right to not be morally wrong”.

          • http://paraphasic.blogspot.com Elliot

            I’m glad you responded, and I think you’re right, but I’m also going to disappoint you by saying that that entire comment was made sarcastically. I think it’s ridiculous and false. Nonetheless, I can offer a cursory defense of the point of view I was trying to represent there. Under a certain logic, self-definition is the most human, most personal activity someone can engage in. Moralizing is a function of crowds, of the many, of “the they”. To subject someone’s right to triumphant self-definition, or the immediate expression thereof (say, in their artistic activities or their professional life) to moral judgment would be to subject the ontologically and morally prior individual person to judgment before a tribunal of the inauthentic, constructed and inhuman “many”. If we were then to translate this view into the (oh so popular) language of personal rights current in our legalistic society, we call it “a violation of the individual’s right to self-definition”.

            Of course, this approach to the human moral life is totally absurd, despite its romantic appeals and its heroisation of the lonely wanderer above the mists of culture and collectivity.

  • David Zincavage

    This discussion confuses sport with athletic and combat competitions and games, all of which are significantly different things.

    The objection to participating in games, like football, because they may involve physical wear and tear is silly and naive. All human activities ultimately entail expenditures and costs that people experience in old age. The only way to avoid costs and the possibility of injury is to avoid living.

    • deiseach

      So am I to take it, David, that you routinely go out and run headfirst into a brick wall? After all, if brain injury is an acceptable and even normal part of the sport, why confine it to professional sportsmen? If we are all gradually wearing down as the normal aging process, and losing our facilities, why not spread the benefits of hard physical damage to all?

  • math_geek

    “If you’ve decided to do something very physically punishing, it should be because it either helps you move past the physical in some kind of spiritual way or because it opens up some particularly physical joy.”

    The issue with applying this to American Football is that I would expect football players and coaches tend to really love football for football. The same I would imagine goes for boxing (something had to inspire all those Rocky movies). It’s my guess that the players who are doing whatever they can to get back on the field are doing it because they want to play more than they want to ensure their continued employment. After all, players have to recover from injury before they can be cut in the NFL and the people playing for Yale’s football team are unlikely to ever make money playing in a professional league. Ask a football player if football opens up “some particularly physical joy” and he is likely to say yes.

    Player safety was, if anything, much worse before the 1990s when players started making real money. Most of the evidence for the damage football causes comes from that era.

    For that matter, I’m not sure if I can blame many players if they play football for the opportunities it gives them. While brain injuries are certainly not going to help those players meet their vocations, the money and college education and connections that our society simply would not have afforded them without the football certainly will.

    When you say football is immoral and we should stop playing and watching, you are saying we should tell people who are freely choosing to play a game that they love to play and profit from that they should stop because it isn’t good for them. That’s a fairly radical thing to do.

    • JohnH

      A few potential problems:
      Making less money meaning that players take less risk is an assumption that I think is not justified. The players in football most likely to get hurt are also the players that make the least amount of money per game/year and are the players that have the shortest careers. They are also the ones that are least likely to be able to hold a job that pays anything near as much as what they make playing (even pre-90′s) assuming they can even hold any jobs afterwords. Even when the salary was lower (and perhaps especially when it was lower) these players have the incentive to play as many games regardless of injury in order to secure a comfortable life for themselves and their families after their short careers of football are over.

      Furthermore, while one might not be able to fired while injured and injury does increase ones likelihood of future injury making one a more risky prospect for teams that one might be traded to or when contract renewal comes up which could cost one their job or quite a bit of money subject to ones short career prospects. College is even worse, yes very few of them are likely to make it to the NFL but most of them are trying to get their and an injury makes one a less desirable prospect and not playing due to an injury could be the difference between the scout picking one out of the crowd to play in the NFL and flipping burgers the rest of ones life.

      • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

        It seems to me that your last point, while accurate I think, actually illustrates the problem to a degree. Many of these athletes might not have gone to college apart from being able to continue to play football but since they have in fact gone to college, likely with a reduced debt load compared to their peers, they really ought to have an advantage when it comes to post-collegiate employment. In other words, the dichotomy between flipping burgers for the rest of your life and making it to the NFL is a false choice. How to communicate that in a way that will make sense to your average college jock I’m not sure (not having been much of a jock myself).

        • JohnH

          70% of football players end up graduating college, which drops to 60% for minority students; the more interesting to me figure of the graduation rates based on income of parents was not in the figures I saw. Division I has quite a few schools with graduation rates of football players of 30% – 40%. Then there is the further question of how valuable the degree actually is, are they actually getting employable degrees or are they in majors that have a lower value to a family of four then a large pizza?

  • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy

    “When a basketball game is the sort of thing you can cry about after losing, we can be sure that it wasn’t just a diversion. When playing (and thus the possibility of poor performance or loss) induces tension and worry in the player commensurate with a serious life-event, we’re not dealing with sport anymore.”

    What if it was not basketball but piano? What if a teen practiced the piano, had a big performance, muffed it, and then cried? Would that be problematic? Or is it just sport that should not rise to this level of seriousness?

    • Taosquirrel

      I don’t think you or others have read the entire comment, and certainly not the subsequent comments in the original post. I assume that’s due to some combination of Leah’s combative tone and the sheer length of Elliot’s comment making it difficult to be read patiently. People seem to be consistently imagining that he was saying something other than what he actually said.

      In short, his analysis was not limited to one particular activity, it was not saying that such activities must be limited to the sort of diversion governed by eutrapelia, and it was not saying that there is anything problematic about an actor getting upset about screwing up in a non-recreational setting.

      • Brandon B

        Crying after you do poorly, either in a football game or in a piano recital, can be a symptom of taking it too seriously, for more or less the same reason. I suspect it’s a question of degree; it’s natural and probably a good thing to be upset when you fall short in some way. If you get too upset, though, that may be because your priorities are out of order.

    • Niemand

      What if it was not basketball but piano?

      Piano is rarely structured as a contest where one party must lose. That was one of the problems I had, philosophically, with organized sports as a kid: The coach would make this speech about how we’re going to win and so on. In the back of my mind, I always thought, “The coach on the other team is also saying that. We can’t BOTH win.” This was one of my first initiations into the concept that adults could be pretty goofy at times.

      Apart from the logical fallacies of the situation, is teaching children that they MUST win really a good lesson? The majority of children playing sports won’t become professional athletes. Why not structure the pre-game speech as “We’re going to go out there, play our best, and have fun!” instead of “We’re going to win!” That could be true of both teams, still encourages kids to play their best, and doesn’t lead to the impression that one has to win or be worthless.

  • Owlmirror

    I am reminded of a quote:

      A blow to the head will confuse a man’s thinking, a blow to the foot has no such effect, this cannot be the result of an immaterial soul. — [Heraclitus, 500 BC]

    I am not certain that the provenance of the quote is as given, since I tried to source it and failed, but it’s still a good quote.

    Would you agree that it’s an implicit denial of dualism to accept that the brain is the source of behavior and actions, and thus that damage to the brain can result in wrong behavior?

    Would you agree that the general principle being offered is:
    Don’t indulge in unnecessary behaviors that will have greater risk of causing damage to the brain and thereby leading to behaviors that will further damage yourself and others.
    ?
    The countering principle appears to be: Damaging your brain, or risking damage to yout brain, is an acceptable risk for the sake of sports and/or machismo.
    The association of such risk with machismo makes me wonder about concussion rates in women’s boxing and/or rugby, and/or maybe soccer/football (I seem to recall something about “heading” the ball and concussion).

    • http://bensix.wordpress.com BenSix

      Don’t indulge in unnecessary behaviors that will have greater risk of causing damage to the brain and thereby leading to behaviors that will further damage yourself and others.

      The word “unnecessary” carries a lot of baggage. We clearly have some intuitive sense of what achievements make what risks justifiable. Thus, people who’d think that Sick Nick Mondo was a freak would think Edmund Hillary a hero. If we’re going to judge particular pursuits we need to flesh out both the scale of their dangers and their potential for value.

    • deiseach

      If we’re going to swap quotes, here’s St. Augustine’s account of his friend Alypius:

      From “The Confessions of St. Augustine”:

      CHAPTER VIII

      13. He had gone on to Rome before me to study law – which was the worldly way which his parents were forever urging him to pursue – and there he was carried away again with an incredible passion for the gladiatorial shows. For, although he had been utterly opposed to such spectacles and detested them, one day he met by chance a company of his acquaintances and fellow students returning from dinner; and, with a friendly violence, they drew him, resisting and objecting vehemently, into the amphitheatre, on a day of those cruel and murderous shows. He protested to them: “Though you drag my body to that place and set me down there, you cannot force me to give my mind or lend my eyes to these shows. Thus I will be absent while present, and so overcome both you and them.” When they heard this, they dragged him on in, probably interested to see whether he could do as he said. When they got to the arena, and had taken what seats they could get, the whole place became a tumult of inhuman frenzy. But Alypius kept his eyes closed and forbade his mind to roam abroad after such wickedness. Would that he had shut his ears also! For when one of the combatants fell in the fight, a mighty cry from the whole audience stirred him so strongly that, overcome by curiosity and still prepared (as he thought) to despise and rise superior to it no matter what it was, he opened his eyes and was struck with a deeper wound in his soul than the victim whom he desired to see had been in his body. Thus he fell more miserably than the one whose fall had raised that mighty clamour which had entered through his ears and unlocked his eyes to make way for the wounding and beating down of his soul, which was more audacious than truly valiant – also it was weaker because it presumed on its own strength when it ought to have depended on Thee. For, as soon as he saw the blood, he drank in with it a savage temper, and he did not turn away, but fixed his eyes on the bloody pastime, unwittingly drinking in the madness – delighted with the wicked contest and drunk with blood lust. He was now no longer the same man who came in, but was one of the mob he came into, a true companion of those who had brought him thither. Why need I say more? He looked, he shouted, he was excited, and he took away with him the madness that would stimulate him to come again: not only with those who first enticed him, but even without them; indeed, dragging in others besides. And yet from all this, with a most powerful and most merciful hand, thou didst pluck him and taught him not to rest his confidence in himself but in thee – but not till long after.

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

    Totally not spam.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8QAxVSDVG4

    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band is never spam.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      “Sport, sport, masculine sport /
      Equips a young man for Society …”

  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    It’s a bit off topic, but if we’re going to talk about sports, can we also talk about misallocation of resources? The Middle Ages built cathedrals, we build super domes. High school and college football coaches are frequently the highest paid personnel at their respective academic institutions. Am I the only one who finds these things disturbing?

  • Noe

    I hope there was not obfuscation of weightlifting with bodybuilding, there. Weightbearing exercise (the closest to ‘sporting’), improves bone density, muscular strength and balance in even the elderly, and competitive powerlifters (‘sports’), have very low incidents of injuries – with competitive classes (Powerlifting USA one of the largest bodies), in the Masters range of 40 to 80.

  • http://bensix.wordpress.com BenSix

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