On winners and losers - Tracing football's tribal roots

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On winners and losers - Tracing football's tribal roots

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:24 pm

<i>Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat.</i>
-- Dhammapada 201

Some interesting quotes from this article:

<b>Tracing football's tribal roots</b>
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... -world-cup

"The idea competitions like the World Cup inspire warm fraternity is a romantic fiction – they are an outlet for primitive emotions. The violence of British football hooligans, for example, reflects a peculiar nostalgia for war. Life in peaceful times can be dull, and British glory seems a long way in the past. Football is an opportunity to experience the thrill of combat, without risking much more than a few broken bones.
Even when football doesn't lead to actual bloodshed, it inspires strong emotions – primitive and tribal – evoking the days when warriors donned facial paint and jumped up and down in war dances, hollering like apes. The nature of the game encourages this: the speed, the collective aggression. ...
Arthur Koestler was right when he said that there is nationalism, and there is football nationalism – and that the latter is the more deeply felt. It helps to have traditional enemies, old hurts, and humiliations that need to be redressed – if only symbolically. ...
Clearly, then, whatever De Coubertin might have hoped, cosmopolitanism and cross-cultural brotherhood comes less naturally to human beings than the raw emotions of the tribe. The tribe can be a club, a clan, or a nation.
Tribal emotions are embarrassing, and dangerous when given free reign. After the second world war, for obvious reasons, the expression of nationalist emotions was virtually taboo in Europe (not least in Germany). We had all become good Europeans, and nationalism was for racists. And yet, since Koestler was right, these emotions could not simply be crushed. They had to find some outlet, and football provided it. The football stadium became a kind of reservation where taboos on tribal frenzy and even racial antagonism could be relaxed.
But the fact that sport can unleash primitive emotions is not a reason to condemn it. Since such feelings cannot simply be wished away, it is better to allow for their ritual expression, just as fears of death, violence and decay find expression in religion or bull fighting. Even though some football games have provoked violence, and in one case even a war, they might have served the positive purpose of containing our more savage impulses by deflecting them onto a mere sport."

* * *

"Mob psychology channelled through sport. The brotherhood disintegrates when the event is over."

"I think football has replaced wars in Europe. If you see the emotions of hate and frustration of fans on the field and in front of TVs, you feel that is war. But this is far better than the real war. You do not have send the soldiers and normally no dead after the matches."

"'Primitive' emotions have to be confronted. Some form of catharsis is the best way of dealing with them. Repressing things just exacerbates them in the end. Football violence reflects something of our own genetic make-up. It constitutes a form of unalienated warfare, which 'primitive' people in the past would have engaged in to defend hunting territory and the like. Alienated warfare is the kind of warfare we engage in at the behest of states and governments. It involves hierarchies of power, chains of command, and and ethos of giving and taking orders. Such forms of warfare kill vastly more people, whereas, when hunter-gatherers go to 'war', it is more in the form of a skirmish. Football violence reflects this."

"Tribal yes but more like gladiators in the arena - 'throw another Christian in to amuse the crowds, centurion'.......thus appeasing the crowds and using 'sport' as a distraction to what was really going on in the old Roman Empire. Furthermore to update Marx's observation we can now replace religion with football as in 'football is the opiate of the masses'."

"Women have the soaps and celebrities, men have sports. It's all about pacifying the mob."


Compare to this:

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... karma.html

"We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from — our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference — our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe's good name. Even when we become Buddhists, the tribe comes first. We demand a Buddhism that honors our myths.

From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control. What we "are" is a nebulous concept at best — and pernicious at worst, when we use it to find excuses for acting on unskillful motives. The worth of a tribe lies only in the skillful actions of its individual members. Even when those good people belong to our tribe, their good karma is theirs, not ours. And, of course, every tribe has its bad members, which means that the mythology of the tribe is a fragile thing. To hang onto anything fragile requires a large investment of passion, aversion, and delusion, leading inevitably to more unskillful actions on into the future.

So the Buddhist teachings on karma, far from being a quaint relic from the past, are a direct challenge to a basic thrust — and basic flaw — in our culture. Only when we abandon our obsession with finding vicarious pride in our tribal past, and can take actual pride in the motives that underlie our present actions, can we say that the word karma, in its Buddhist sense, has recovered its luggage. And when we open the luggage, we'll find that it's brought us a gift: the gift we give ourselves and one another when we drop our myths about who we are, and can instead be honest about what we're doing with each moment — at the same time making the effort to do it right."


1. Experienced or gained by the loss or to the consequence of another, such as through watching or reading.
"People experience vicarious pleasures through watching television."
2. Done on behalf of others
"The concept of vicarious atonement, that one person can atone for the sins of another, is found in many religions."


Should Buddhist monks watch football matches or gladiator shows?

From the Vinaya:

<i>Pacittiya 48. Should any bhikkhu go to see an army on active duty, unless there is a suitable reason, it is to be confessed.</i>

An army in the time of the Buddha was a very different affair from what an army is now. We will start with a discussion of how the Vibhaṅga explains this factor in terms of armies at that time, and then follow with a discussion of how it may be applied to armies at present.

Armies in the Buddha's time consisted mainly of what we would call reserve units. These were organized into four divisions: elephant units, cavalry units, chariot units, and infantry units. The soldiers for the most part were citizens who would live at home until called up on active duty to engage in actual warfare or to practice maneuvers, activities that normally took place outside the city. Battles, both actual and practice, were fought according to rules — total warfare did not come to India until many centuries after the Buddha's time — and it was possible for non-military citizens to watch, with occasional danger to life and limb, much as people at present watch football games. (Going to a battlefield is listed in the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) as a form of entertainment.)

Because armies on active duty no longer limit their activities to areas outside of cities — they are sometimes based in cities, run practice drills there, and can be called in to quell riots or fight enemy forces there — the definition of "on active duty" must be changed to fit the way armies use it at present. Thus soldiers at work on base or off would count as being on duty. Armies not on active duty, as when they organize charity events, would not be grounds for an offense.

<i>Pacittiya 50. If a bhikkhu staying two or three nights with an army should go to a battlefield, a roll call, the troops in battle formation, or to see a review of the (battle) units, it is to be confessed.</i>

"Then a certain group-of-six bhikkhu, having gone to the battlefield, was pierced by an arrow. People made fun of him: 'We hope (the battle) was well fought, venerable sir. How many points did you get? (§)'"

A battlefield, according to the Vibhaṅga and Commentary here, is a place where actual fighting may be seen; according to the Commentary to the Brahmajāla Suttanta, it is a place where war games are held. Both interpretations seem valid, especially considering the organized and decorous nature of warfare in those days.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-5.html

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: On winners and losers - Tracing football's tribal roots

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:15 pm


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Rui Sousa
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Re: On winners and losers - Tracing football's tribal roots

Postby Rui Sousa » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:16 pm

British Zoologist Desmond Morris analyzes our tribal roots: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ZqxrKUp5Q

Tribal identity usually leads to violence and aggression.
With Metta

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Re: On winners and losers - Tracing football's tribal roots

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:29 pm

Very nicely presented!
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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