Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Orville Higgins | Living like cultured savages

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2020 | 12:16 AM
A locked gate is seen by the Etihad Stadium, where Manchester City were due to play Burnley in an English Premier League match on Saturday, March 14, after all English games were cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19.
A locked gate is seen by the Etihad Stadium, where Manchester City were due to play Burnley in an English Premier League match on Saturday, March 14, after all English games were cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19.

With the whole sporting world on lockdown until God knows when because of the coronavirus, one is forced to appreciate, if one didn’t before, the importance of sports to the human race.

The more I think about it, the more it dawns on me that sports is not merely a pastime to which man turns for recreation (except the professionals, of course) but is almost a necessity to his very existence. For his ultimate survival, man needs food, clothing, and shelter. He needs a religion that allows him to pay homage to his god, whomever he conceives him to be. Right behind those is his need for entertainment and leisure, of which organised games play a prominent part.

A quick glance at the history of the world shows that each civilisation, except the most barbaric and basic, had organised sports. The Tainos, whom Columbus discovered in the so-called New World, were playing a crude, ancient version of what is not dissimilar to modern-day lawn tennis. It is not an exaggeration to say that the more developed a set of people are, the more developed their games tend to be. The ancient Greeks, for example, “the most politically minded and intellectually and artistically the most creative of all peoples”, gave us the Olympic Games, which is still the single biggest occurrence that the whole human race can collectively identify with. The Olympics, in those early days, was a celebration of the most powerful Greek god Zeus, which probably shows that wired somewhere in man’s DNA, the need for worship and the need for sports are probably intertwined.

MEN AND LOWER CLASS ANIMALS

So living in a world where there is no English Premier League, no Olympics, no Test cricket, no sports at all runs contrary to our very core. When you think of it, men and lower-class animals are not as far apart as one may think. We both need food, warmth, and shelter and spend most of our lives pursuing these necessities. We reproduce. We fight. We take care of our offspring. Some of the biggest differences between man and lower beasts are the instinct to worship and the will and ability to organise and play games where there are rules and officials to keep people in line. Without sports to watch or play, life now wouldn’t be far removed from how savages used to live in prehistoric times. Substitute caves for modern dwellings and we would hardly have anything on them. I repeat, the quality of leisure and organised games is one of the surest ways to tell how far a society has advanced. So, to the Man upstairs, I’m not ‘flying up in Your face’. The universe has to unfold according to Your dictates and will. We beg of Thee, however, to stop this dreaded virus, if for no other reason than to give us back sports. With the virus killing by the hundreds and no sports to watch, we are reduced to living like ‘cultured savages’, merely work and home, and that cannot be part of the master plan.