Today • 9:37 am
/ 6 minutes to read
Top sports is one of the activities that has always been allowed.
For them, football is like religion,” said the TV commentator when the camera showed close-ups of fans at the curve. Scarves tied to the wrists swirled in the air. T-shirts of cheerful people ensure uniform colors, drums set the rhythm of chants. “They made a pilgrimage to the cathedral again today! What is meant is their team’s stadium. Here they worship their priests, the players on the grass. They convey the message of God, or the message of football.
There are hints you hear on TV broadcasts in any country that loves football. Elsewhere, there may be similar parallels to the corresponding national sports: cricket in India, rugby in New Zealand. And in other countries, such a sect sometimes arises around particularly successful athletes: the boxer Shooting In the Philippines, long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie in Ethiopia.
Football or cricket is not a religion
Of course, commentators who proclaim that the fans in the stadium are believers and the athletes in the field as a preacher of the divine commandments, should know what everyone knows when they hear such sentences: this is blatantly exaggerated. Football or cricket is not a religion like Christianity or Islam. Those who do not go to the stadium on Sunday are not afraid of life in Hell. And if a famous team does not win anymore, it does not mean any disaster for the fans in everyday life.
But the pandemic showed how daredevil commentators from around the world were right nonetheless. When the coronavirus spread to different countries in the spring of 2020 and forced lockdowns everywhere, daily life came to a halt. Soon there were a few exceptions: in addition to churches, football fields were allowed to reopen. For a long time, fans could not come, but the game returned for more than a year.
If Christianity or football means nothing to you, it will be difficult to understand. With both activities, the risk of infection is obvious. When visiting a church, many people stay in a closed room for a long time. On an empty outdoor soccer field, athletes are at risk of injury. They do, too, as has been shown time and time again.
However, the European Football Championship spread across the continent begins this weekend. Shortly thereafter, at the end of July, the Olympic Games in Tokyo, with around 11,000 athletes, will follow the biggest sporting event in the world. Some Euro stadiums will be filled with fans who will then travel after their teams. For Tokyo, the decision on whether layers should remain empty is still pending. But perhaps the decision has been made: the show will go on, and the games will not be canceled anymore.
Sports is the best entertainment
Is this crazy? For infidels yes. But large parts of the world are believers, either as adherents of a classical religion or as fans of sports. In fact, the cult of sports in today’s world shares many characteristics with classical beliefs: when religions flourished in previous centuries, people also amaze people with good entertainment. In the churches there were touching sermons, the best music and the most beautiful architecture. Many people today feel that nothing they enjoy like sports.
But this is also due to the values it represents. Classical religions taught such virtues as piety, fear of God, and charity. In an increasingly atheist and capitalist society, the liberal values of humanity prevail. Nor are they as easily recognizable anywhere as in sport: justice, respect for rules and competition, working for your dreams, continuous self-improvement, and choice through performance.
The purest form of liberal societies
Sports are practically the purest form of liberal societies. In it, we learn about the aesthetic and beautiful aspects of our modern set of values.
Representatives of professional sports argued in a similar way when they advocated a speedy restart of their competitions last spring. After all, people needed sports, a savior in a world that went crazy. And their argument seemed more convincing to politicians, since there is a lot of money behind it. Precisely because the sport represents all the pure values of liberalism, many sponsors want to adorn it – and claim the billions they have invested so that the sport, and thus their brands, continue to emerge.
The fact that these competitions are now taking place in a pandemic, and therefore new infections and lives are at stake, seems very irrational from a social point of view, but it has its logic. You just have to understand that sport is really a kind of religion these days. Then the mind no longer comes first.