In his brilliant Technics and Civilization (1934) Lewis Mumford analyzed the massive commodification of sport—and this was in the 30’s! Here are a few of his bons mots:
The machine had come into our civilization, not to save man from servitude, but to make possible mass servitude to the immoral standards of consumption that had grown up among the military atrocities.
Thus sport which began as a spontaneous reaction against the machine, has become one of the mass-duties of the machine age. It is a part of the universal regimentation of life, for the sake of private profits or nationalistic exploit.
Sport has turned out to be one of the least effective reactions against the machine, the other less effective in its reaction to the machine, more ambitious and ultimately disastrous, war.
This use of sport of course has been with us since Rome delivered bread and circuses to the masses.
Juvenal around 100 CE wrote omnia, nunc se / continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, / panem et circenses.
Everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses
Look at the mania in Brazil, grown ups? weeping at a loss in a soccer game as the missiles once again murder the innocent in Gaza.
The World Cup is the most watched spectacle in history.That’s what it is a spectacle, more bread and circuses to divert our attention from life and the denigration of life. Gaza is real, not part of a dream world.That’s where the tears–and then action—must be. The World Cup more “distraction from distraction by distraction.”(T.S.Eliot)
The score so far at the end of the second
Palestinian dead 100, 22 children