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What aspects of human society unites us?


beecee
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The first that comes to mind is science generally, and large scientific endeavours specifically, despite political differences:eg: The ISS and of recent times the general distribution of covid 19 vaccines around the world.

In recognising that, another aspect imo is sport in general. At present I am completely enthralled and stuck to the TV watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While there has at times been certain "over the top" rivalry, one incident being the water polo stoush between the USA and USSR at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games...The Southern hemisphere's first Olympic games, [I was 11 years old] I particularly remember it because of Australia's complete domination of the swimming events, [we won every men's and woman's freestyle events and all relay swimming events.

The Competition, rivalry, under the Tokyo and Olympic games banner of "faster, higher, stronger – together" is encouraging humanity to reach the top...together.

Watching young atheletes pushing themselves to the limit, and making sacrifices with intense training schedules to be the best gives me great joy....watching incredible athletes like Usain Bolte, the great American swimmer Michael Phelps, with 28 Olympic medals, our own great Dawn Fraser [winning the 100mtr freestyle at three successive olympics] the beauty of the skill of the incredible Rumanian gymnist Nadia Comenski, just to name a few. The recent win in the 400 metre freestyle by the rank outsider, 18 year old Tunisian named  Ahmed Hafnaoui, against the more favoured American and Aussie rivals had me applauding and nearly spilling my beer...he beat into second place Australia's Jack McLoughlin with  the USA's Kieran Smith winning bronze bronze.

Looking forward for later today around 1120 AEST, for the showdown between the young Aussie Arianne Titmus who won the women's 400 metre world title last year, beating the great American Kate Ledeski. The rematch between the young Aussie and American champion should be worth watching. No prizes for guessing who I am pinning my hopes on!😉

The following sums up my opinion pretty well.......

https://www.qatardebate.org/qatardebate-journal/does-sport-unite-people-or-drive-them-apart/

 

Are sports a catalyst for hatred and tension or quite the opposite?

Sport, in its many forms, is the largest human activity on the planet, that reflects on the human lifestyle and embodies, in its primitive image, and its physical and mental needs. It also reflects, in its more advanced form, an institutional system and phenomenon of social, economic and political dimensions that garner wide attention and broadly affects large and extended segments of society, changing the affiliations and convictions of individuals. It is even considered an icon of customs and values, contributing to building and forming identities. Sport is also part of religious and national rituals, the Olympic Games in its inception were linked to a Greek religious ritual that includes running and athletic sports and later horse races and so on until it reached its modern shape we all know now, which is considered the largest sporting event held periodically for more than a century. Moreover, sport has occupied a place in the context of military preparation and societies’ resilience in some civilizations as well as the context of recreation and entertainment for others. The biological perspective of sport has also evolved to be part of the healthy lifestyles and behavioral patterns, and it has occupied an educational place in preparing and upbringing generations.

The importance of sport is also expressed through many indicators, most notably, the volume of interaction and interest which encompass all earth’s inhabitants – voluntarily and involuntarily – as it stimulates feelings of pleasure, curiosity and enthusiasm and expresses the passion for belonging to a person. It is also an economic engine that embodies investments, markets and trading for countries, institutions and individuals. The Forbes magazine, specialized in financial figures, estimated the income of FC Barcelona in 2020 at 840 million euros. Sport is considered an economic advantage for some sport entities and even countries, and it contributes to improving infrastructure and financial returns as well as helping in providing jobs.

more at link..........................

 

Edited by beecee
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I don't know about uniting, but sport has certainly been used by many societies to sublimate aggression and channel rivalry into a manageable form, with rules and far fewer fatalities.

OTOH, those loyal fans can turn into football hooligans in some social climates, and international relations have not been noticeably improved by the Olympic Games. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-nazi-olympics-berlin-1936

This is just a personal opinion, but I really don't think the hype is doing sports or athletes any good: the competition is so intense, and the stakes are so big that they're pushing themselves beyond human capacity, burning out too soon and suffering too many injuries. 

And the money is doing a good deal of harm to society. In gambling, in education, in the buying and selling of athletes like prize cattle, in commercial sponsorships, in the inflation of frivolous spectacles to eclipse serious endeavours. 

Also, I think  art, entertainment and games should be play, not work.   

 

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2 hours ago, Peterkin said:

the competition is so intense, and the stakes are so big that they're pushing themselves beyond human capacity, burning out too soon and suffering too many injuries.   

You make a valid point there. Inthe Sydney based NRL Rugby League, over the last few years, there have been rule changes to make the game faster. This has resulted in far more season ending injuries, such as ACL [Anterior cruciate ligament] to name just one. 

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14 hours ago, beecee said:

The Competition, rivalry, under the Tokyo and Olympic games banner of "faster, higher, stronger – together" is encouraging humanity to reach the top...together.

Sorry, but I see this as wishful thinking. In reality, sports in general seems to be just another way to pit rivals against each other in a non-lethal way, but only exacerbates the problems with modern humans competing for "fun". We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

I don't think sports unite us, just the opposite. Saying it's a good thing because people all over the world are into it is bad reasoning. Humans are into a LOT of things that are horribly harmful to us and the planet.

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I find great joy in watching people push the pinnacle of human physicality and exploring it myself to lesser extent. Much has been said of the competitive aspects of sports, but many include cooperation as well. And not just the team sports, solo performers are a part of various communities, fellow performers, coaches, physios etc... I'm sure there are rivalries as well as friendships in these communities - that's the human condition.

I agree that the consumerisation of sports is a problem, focusing on whatever makes the most money for the people with financial stakes,  but you can hardly blame sport itself for that - it's infected every facet of society, sport is just one more victim.

 

12 hours ago, Peterkin said:

... and the stakes are so big that they're pushing themselves beyond human capacity, burning out too soon and suffering too many injuries. 

Some humans will always want to push themselves to the limits, be it climbing mountains, diving from the highest heights or pushing themselves to a permanent injury for a chance at gold. Whether the risks are worth the payoff is a personal thing. I'm sure some regret it and some would do it all again. The only thing that concerns me is that the choice is theirs.

 

1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

I think you're choosing to see the worst of the situation - which is undoubtedly there, but it's not all that's there.

When Saka missed his penalty for England, how many Italians went to console him after the initial celebrations? There is more respect between opponents than you give credit for. Even all the trash talk before many big name boxing and MMA fights is just a circus act encouraged by event organisers to artificially whip up interest - watch interviews after most fights and the fighters will often speak in respectful tones about each other, win or lose. 

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1 minute ago, Prometheus said:

I think you're choosing to see the worst of the situation - which is undoubtedly there, but it's not all that's there.

When Saka missed his penalty for England, how many Italians went to console him after the initial celebrations? There is more respect between opponents than you give credit for. Even all the trash talk before many big name boxing and MMA fights is just a circus act encouraged by event organisers to artificially whip up interest - watch interviews after most fights and the fighters will often speak in respectful tones about each other, win or lose. 

Competition between teams of elite athletes has many admirable aspects, but I'll never participate in that, only watch it. So I choose to focus on the spectator aspect, which is where I think modern sports drag us down as a species into tribal, paint-your-face animalism and brutishness. The teams pretend lofty values while celebrity sports stars get away with murder. Fans continue tribal rivalries well after they leave the stadiums. They get their interests artificially whipped up while they're part of the mob and most likely don't hear any respect in the after-fight interviews.

I'm perhaps jaded by the asshat white males I see in their team-festooned pickup trucks behaving like cavemen while whooping it up on the highways on the way to a game. Sports are promoted as rivalries, and I think far too many people make far too much money keeping humans at each other's throats about one thing or another. What works for arms dealers works for sports as well. It's just business.

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1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

Competition between teams of elite athletes has many admirable aspects, but I'll never participate in that, only watch it. So I choose to focus on the spectator aspect, which is where I think modern sports drag us down as a species into tribal, paint-your-face animalism and brutishness. The teams pretend lofty values while celebrity sports stars get away with murder. Fans continue tribal rivalries well after they leave the stadiums. They get their interests artificially whipped up while they're part of the mob and most likely don't hear any respect in the after-fight interviews.

I'm perhaps jaded by the asshat white males I see in their team-festooned pickup trucks behaving like cavemen while whooping it up on the highways on the way to a game. Sports are promoted as rivalries, and I think far too many people make far too much money keeping humans at each other's throats about one thing or another. What works for arms dealers works for sports as well. It's just business.

I'm waiting for 'Rollerball' or "Death Race 2000" to become a real game. Competing is evolutionarily progressive behaviour.

Edited by StringJunky
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14 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

I'm waiting for 'Rollerball' or "Death Race 2000" to become a real game. Competing is evolutionarily progressive behaviour.

The original Rollerball (1975) had an impact on me. A corporate society that removed the good parts of individual accomplishment in favor of the worst parts of team play seemed prophetic to me at the time, just going into college. And over the next 20 years I watched the corporations gain power and pervert the working and middle classes in the US in similar ways.

 

 

The aspects of human society that truly unite us? 

We have an extremely rich and nuanced ability to communicate with each other, coupled with the technology to extend that ability virtually everywhere we exist as a species. 

We are one of the most cooperative species when we forget to be afraid of those who look or act differently. 

We are often intelligent enough to recognize when something is so important that it requires all our efforts, regardless of nationality or profit or personal fears. 

We can make a tool to overcome most inadequacies we face, and often we can agree when one of those tools is the best for a particular job. 

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3 hours ago, Phi for All said:

Sorry, but I see this as wishful thinking. In reality, sports in general seems to be just another way to pit rivals against each other in a non-lethal way, but only exacerbates the problems with modern humans competing for "fun". We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

I don't think sports unite us, just the opposite. Saying it's a good thing because people all over the world are into it is bad reasoning. Humans are into a LOT of things that are horribly harmful to us and the planet.

While I agree that the fan mentality can lead to grotesque behavior (Red Sox fans flipping cars, soccer hooligans, fans throwing bottles from the bleachers, etc.), and the whole urge to wear a particular color shirt and feel like part of a special group can be retrogressive, I think the problems with professional sports owe a lot to predatory capitalism in general, and the way businesses try to market an "identity" to sell their commodity.   In that respect, Rollerball was rather prescient. 

I think many of us have those moments when we see modern sports and say "FFS, it's just a GAME!  It's supposed to be about fun and the poetry of the human body in graceful motion...."  Or just getting outside with some pals and enjoying some fresh air and exercise. 

As for singing the praises of "teamwork," well, all you need to develop teamwork is any group project.  You can gather a group and go help build a neighbor's garage (lots of physical prowess will be developed, trust me on this....) 

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4 minutes ago, TheVat said:

While I agree that the fan mentality can lead to grotesque behavior (Red Sox fans flipping cars, soccer hooligans, fans throwing bottles from the bleachers, etc.), and the whole urge to wear a particular color shirt and feel like part of a special group can be retrogressive, I think the problems with professional sports owe a lot to predatory capitalism in general, and the way businesses try to market an "identity" to sell their commodity.   In that respect, Rollerball was rather prescient. 

Beyond predatory capitalism, I also fault sports for promoting "fame" culture. Internet influencers, politicians, actors, and sports stars all contribute to a negative and harmful perspective on famous people. Fame means you're above the law, you aren't subject to normal rules of behavior, you get to do and say anything you want, and people have to kiss your ass. Since Charles Barkley finally removed that tired old "be a role model for kids" clause, all this behavior is held up for our children to see as legitimate. If you're popular, it's not really abuse when you make fun of others. If you have a lot of money and everyone knows you, you're empowered to behave as you like, regardless of consequences, and I think children are idolizing these people because of all the positive attention they receive even when their behavior is negative.

Fame and wealth idolization have also led to placing unnecessary trust in some of these people. Being good at making money or acting in a movie or throwing a baseball doesn't make you a good leader automatically, yet we regularly allow fame to cloud even this simple truth. 

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3 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Some humans will always want to push themselves to the limits,

That would be fine, if talented children were not pushed and driven by their parents and coaches, from a very early age. In some cases, it's parental ambition or vicarious accomplishment; in many cases, it's the only way a kid born without privilege can get an education, climb out of poverty or escape discrimination. And the pressures even after the initial success are not all internal!

3 hours ago, Prometheus said:

When Saka missed his penalty for England, how many Italians went to console him after the initial celebrations? There is more respect between opponents than you give credit for.

Saka may be too young, but many of those professional footballers have played on various foreign teams... to the extant that, when we're watching a match between European countries or even MLS,  we play "who can spot more poached South Americans". The fans may be partisan, even passionately and violently partisan, but the players are just doing a job and advertising a brand of sports gear.

48 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

Fame and wealth idolization have also led to placing unnecessary trust in some of these people. Being good at making money or acting in a movie or throwing a baseball doesn't make you a good leader automatically, yet we regularly allow fame to cloud even this simple truth. 

Also to bully their entourage, mistreat women and generally act like out-of-control adolescents -- which, I suppose many are, because, as physical training, drill and competition take up most of their youth, their socialization and culturation is largely neglected. Their little-boy egos swell - female athletes act out childishly sometimes, as well, but more often in frustration than from entitlement - without the concomitant self-discipline and responsibility it takes to earn status in a grown-up world. Nobody expects them meet the basic standard of behaviour demanded of a software designer or supermarket manager. I suppose that's what most appeals to children: adults acting the way they themselves would in the absence of parental supervision. 

In one way, athletes have an advantage over other celebrities: a relatively short time in the limelight, after which they retire to normal family life, become coaches, managers or sales reps of some kind.

The baseball reference reminds me of a neighbourhood sandpit game described in a book titled A Reasonable Life.

That's how sport should be!

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5 hours ago, Phi for All said:

I'm perhaps jaded by the asshat white males I see in their team-festooned pickup trucks behaving like cavemen while whooping it up on the highways on the way to a game. Sports are promoted as rivalries, and I think far too many people make far too much money keeping humans at each other's throats about one thing or another. What works for arms dealers works for sports as well. It's just business.

I wish i could say it wasn't so, but it's only part of the story. The people you talk about are very vocal and visible so it becomes easy to think they are all like that, but i think the majority are people who derive great joy on many levels. One that gets missed is the artistry of sport. When Ibrahimovic scored a stunner against England, even the English fans applauded as its beauty was overwhelming. 

It also seems to vary by sport. Tennis, rugby and football crowds are very different beasts.

 

3 hours ago, Peterkin said:

That would be fine, if talented children were not pushed and driven by their parents and coaches, from a very early age. In some cases, it's parental ambition or vicarious accomplishment; in many cases, it's the only way a kid born without privilege can get an education, climb out of poverty or escape discrimination. And the pressures even after the initial success are not all internal!

Yeah, you hear some real horror stories. On the flip side, to achieve a deep level of skill in many pursuits, not just sport, starting very young is a huge advantage. How much was Mozart pushed (i have no idea, i imagine at least a bit).

Also i think there's also a cultural component. The West is very focused on individualism so there might be a reluctance to push a kid toward any profession. In China and India it seems more acceptable for parents to decide what a child might be when they're older. On the average i don't think they are any less happy because of it.

 

3 hours ago, Peterkin said:

... but the players are just doing a job and advertising a brand of sports gear.

They are not my favourite footballers, but during press conferences it was good to see Ronaldo remove a fizzy drink for water, while Pogba silently removed an alcoholic beverage from view. Nothing was done, but the UEFA 'reminded' them of their 'obligations' to sponsors.

 

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9 hours ago, Phi for All said:

Sorry, but I see this as wishful thinking. In reality, sports in general seems to be just another way to pit rivals against each other in a non-lethal way, but only exacerbates the problems with modern humans competing for "fun". We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

I don't think sports unite us, just the opposite. Saying it's a good thing because people all over the world are into it is bad reasoning. Humans are into a LOT of things that are horribly harmful to us and the planet.

There is good and bad in any human endeavour you can wish to name. Our Ariarne Titmus beat the American, Katy Ledecky probably the greatest female swimmer ever yesterday. Here are some photos of them after the event. Naturally Katy would still have been disappointed.....Australia's Ariarne Titmus beats Katie Ledecky in 400m final, Emma McKeon  takes Tokyo Olympics bronze in 100m butterfly final - ABC News

Ariarne Titmus' classy moment with Katie Ledecky after slaying giant

I mentioned Rugby League earlier, a tough, body contact sport that I played in my younger days and a sport I know something about...Like our NRL professionals from different teams getting together after a game for drinks. I have even seen [and been involved in] in the heat of the competitive moment, two opposing players slugging it out on field, and having drinks after the game. Sport is certainly competitive. Is that bad? Perhaps possible with certain individuals, but like the defeated great American Katy Ledecky, it also teaches us humility, and how to lose graciously and accept defeat when it comes.

The Olympic games and the Olympic legacy, will imo be with us for all time. I'm not talking about  extravagant opening and closing ceremonies by the way, I'm speaking of  supremely fit young men and women, competing to be the best and accepting losing graciously, The good in sport, far outweighs any possibly  negative  outcomes.

 

 

1 hour ago, Prometheus said:

 One that gets missed is the artistry of sport. When Ibrahimovic scored a stunner against England, even the English fans applauded as its beauty was overwhelming. 

The following video is at the Montreal Olympic games of 1976, and the story of the perfect "10" by Nadia Comaneci and the sheer beauty and artistry involved.

 

6 hours ago, TheVat said:

While I agree that the fan mentality can lead to grotesque behavior (Red Sox fans flipping cars, soccer hooligans, fans throwing bottles from the bleachers, etc.),

There have been incidents in Sydney and Melbourne, where fans have made arseholes of themselves, some shouting out racist remarks...In those incidents unruly behavior has seen them banned for a period from attending any game.

6 hours ago, TheVat said:

the whole urge to wear a particular color shirt and feel like part of a special group can be retrogressive,

Again, as I said earlier, there is good and bad in every endeavour. I wear my team's colours when I attend a Rugby League match, and my best mate who supports another team, wears his...I shout out encouragment to my team, and express displeasure when the other side commits an illegality. I fail to see anything retrogressive in reasonable team supporters. Obviously the team I support in RL is/was the team I played for when younger...just as obviously, I am probably biased to some extent, but certainly not biased enough in the extreme to not be able to appreciate excellence by any oppossing team.

 

7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

I'm perhaps jaded by the asshat white males I see in their team-festooned pickup trucks behaving like cavemen while whooping it up on the highways on the way to a game.

Sounds like the redneck clowns that stormed the White House, urged on by Trump, but yeah we also have that variety...thankfully, in the minority!

Edited by beecee
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4 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Yeah, you hear some real horror stories. On the flip side, to achieve a deep level of skill in many pursuits, not just sport, starting very young is a huge advantage. How much was Mozart pushed (i have no idea, i imagine at least a bit).

Why achieve " a deep level of skill" at the price of your childhood? How about just a shallow level of skill and a lot less pain?  What's so terrible about jumping, painting or singing quite well, rather than superbly? Yes, Mozart was pushed pretty hard by his ambitious father, but he was a little show-off anyway, so it didn't hurt him as much as it did many child prodigies.

5 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Also i think there's also a cultural component. The West is very focused on individualism so there might be a reluctance to push a kid toward any profession. In China and India it seems more acceptable for parents to decide what a child might be when they're older. On the average i don't think they are any less happy because of it.

Don't underestimate the American parent's desire for fame!  Yes, prodigal children very often are unhappy. Trouble is, they spend so much of their formative years acquiring the skill that they never learn how to relate to other people or or make independent decisions. They are often socially and emotionally stunted, lonely, anxious and unstable. They are sacrificed to the spectators' pleasure, their handlers' quest for success and the venue's profit margin. Also, their siblings and later their spouses and children can become collateral damage.

Anyway, whatever is good and not so good in professional sport, it does have some cohesive qualities. Participants in any particular sport are a community of sorts, with shared experiences and values. Fans really do seem to consider themselves something like a tribe. I don't know whether that translates to co-operation outside the stadium or pub, or whether they have more understanding and tolerance for one another because of this one passion they all have in common. 

It does not, however, seem to unite "people" in any other sense.

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On 7/25/2021 at 5:52 PM, beecee said:

What aspects of human society unites us?

Proximity, physical and social.

Beyond that, we’re mostly hairless apes just being tribal all of the time and flinging feces at each other. 

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16 hours ago, Phi for All said:

Sorry, but I see this as wishful thinking. In reality, sports in general seems to be just another way to pit rivals against each other in a non-lethal way, but only exacerbates the problems with modern humans competing for "fun". We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

I don't think sports unite us, just the opposite. Saying it's a good thing because people all over the world are into it is bad reasoning. Humans are into a LOT of things that are horribly harmful to us and the planet.

Modern sport is a mess. In many disciplines person has to start very early, or won't be able to compete with others on Olympics level. Have no normal childhood. Doesn't go to normal school as it would collide with sport. Person who started at 8 vs person who started at 15. The first one has 7 years more experience.. Entire life is subordinated to the training plan. In majority it is plan of their parents than child. They have no normal day work job. Sport is their job. Have to search for "investors" which will give them regular monthly payments. In return sponsor receives the rights for somebody image in medias (which can be worth something in capitalistic country in the future and used for advertising, if (and only if) child sportsmen-to-be will have good results in sport and gains general public recognition). Only a few can reach to the top. The rest childs sportsman-to-be remain without normal childhood, jobless, unknown to public not widely recognizable, bitter. Without proper education and teenage social life/skills, they have problems with existence and relationships after finishing their sport career e.g. due to injury.

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3 hours ago, Sensei said:

Modern sport is a mess. In many disciplines person has to start very early, or won't be able to compete with others on Olympics level. Have no normal childhood. Doesn't go to normal school as it would collide with sport. Person who started at 8 vs person who started at 15. The first one has 7 years more experience.. Entire life is subordinated to the training plan. In majority it is plan of their parents than child. They have no normal day work job. Sport is their job. Have to search for "investors" which will give them regular monthly payments. In return sponsor receives the rights for somebody image in medias (which can be worth something in capitalistic country in the future and used for advertising, if (and only if) child sportsmen-to-be will have good results in sport and gains general public recognition). Only a few can reach to the top. The rest childs sportsman-to-be remain without normal childhood, jobless, unknown to public not widely recognizable, bitter. Without proper education and teenage social life/skills, they have problems with existence and relationships after finishing their sport career e.g. due to injury.

A small percentage make it to the top. The majority of the rest have competitive fun, and probably maintain a far more healthy lifestyle. As a young man I aimed and wished with all my might to play first grade Rugby League. Two things stopped me...Firstly, I wasn't good enough, secondly I had a medial meniscus [cartlidge] removed, which was more complicated then todays "in and out" key hole surgery tecniques. It didn't affect me not having a normal childhood, nor the fun and antics of a young adult, all that I willingly would have sacrificed to have reached the top level.

My Son started playing Rugby League at the age of 7, and for two years his coaches remarked to me he had skills similar to one of our past greats, a bloke called Artie Beetson, who was made an "Immortal" of our game. While as a parent I was thrilled with this potential, my Son was more interested in music and IT. I didn't stand in his way in the least, and in fact bought him his first guitar, a Fender guitar...he went on to play in a band and then uni etc for his IT awards and certificates.

Thos that aim and wish to reach the top of their chosen profession, be it a Doctor, Laywer, or Sportsman, all need to make sacrifices.

 

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3 hours ago, beecee said:

Thos that aim and wish to reach the top of their chosen profession, be it a Doctor, Laywer, or Sportsman, all need to make sacrifices.

Why does any profession need to have a top?

And why did sport become a profession? 

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19 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Why does any profession need to have a top?

It's not a matter of "need"

If there is a difference in ability, there will be a hierarchy.

 

19 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

why did sport become a profession? 

Because someone realized people would pay to be entertained/distracted

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14 minutes ago, swansont said:

If there is a difference in ability, there will be a hierarchy.

That would be natural - if there were an unbiased process of comparing abilities. Sacrifice - or self and others - to be at "the top" should not be a necessary part of that selection. In fact, the 'top' isn't established on an objective scale of competence - or even particularly well defined in most professions. In sport, it is defined by a leagues according its own regulations, and it's a matter of winning contests, often against equally skilled rivals, for that ephemeral # 1 position. The talent may be innate, but the skills are learned, which is a question of opportunity and quality of instruction.  So many variables, so little certainty!

 

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3 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

That would be natural - if there were an unbiased process of comparing abilities. Sacrifice - or self and others - to be at "the top" should not be a necessary part of that selection.

You speak of sacrifice like it's an intrinsically bad thing. People sacrifice everyday, for themselves in the future, for their family, for their beliefs. If you're sacrificing grudgingly, then sure you probably need to re-examine your priorities, but for plenty of people that sacrifice are not only worth it, but are done joyfully. 

Much has been said of the lifelong injuries Olympians accrue. I found a study estimating about 2/3 have such an injury. But the real question is whether those same Olympians feel it was worth it. I couldn't find a study that tried to quantify this, so i just browsed some personal accounts - the majority i saw were happy with their path (including those who didn't finish in the medals).

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24 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

That would be natural - if there were an unbiased process of comparing abilities. Sacrifice - or self and others - to be at "the top" should not be a necessary part of that selection.

I don't see how this follows. There's innate ability and there is practice/honing of skills. As you say, skills are learned. So sacrifice is going to be part of that. If you aren't willing to put in the time to get better, there's a limit to how much better you will get.

 

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16 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

You speak of sacrifice like it's an intrinsically bad thing. People sacrifice everyday, for themselves in the future, for their family, for their beliefs. If you're sacrificing grudgingly, then sure you probably need to re-examine your priorities, but for plenty of people that sacrifice are not only worth it, but are done joyfully. 

I didn't say that. I was referring to the foregoing discussion of sacrificing childhood, family life and healthy development in order to raise a prodigy in some relatively frivolous pursuit, like skating, dancing, playing rugby or chess. The "people" in this scenario are 3-7 years old. It's not their free or informed choice.

 

21 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

he majority i saw were happy with their path (including those who didn't finish in the medals).

Well, that turned out all right for them. I'm glad. But I still wouldn't put my child through it: if they wanted to play, I'd let them play, probably buy them essential equipment; I wouldn't nag them to practice or drive them to 5 am hockey games in a blizzard. 

11 minutes ago, swansont said:

There's innate ability and there is practice/honing of skills.

In most professions, there is also opportunity, ambition, luck, connections, recognition by an establishment, politics, personal charisma, diplomacy and *money*  - without which you're not going to earn the diploma that allows you to compete in the first place, and the earning of which, to a very large extent, determines your professional standing in fields like law or medicine. That's what I meant by not entirely based on ability and no objective system of grading. 

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