Today what is called sport seems to have become the playground of a particular earth-spirit. [. . .] But what has made sport to a large extent a public matter of the first rank, first in ancient Greece and Rome, and then again today? What is behind the enthusiasm of millions of sporting fans who watch the players with such passionate and often frenzied excitement? What has made the industrializing and commercializing of sport so clearly remunerative? Why is the Sunday evening paper so infinitely more important to countless numbers of people because of the late news it gives about football scores rather than accounts of the most astounding and momentous things that might have happened in the arena of world politics? After the soccer championship games in Sweden in 1958, what led Brazil, the home of the victorious team, to establish a new national holiday, and what was it that brought the prodigy Pélé, then seventeen years old, not only a good deal of money and many other good things but also no fewer than five hundred offers of marriage, while on the same occasion Germany, for the opposite reason, threatened to plunge into a kind of irritated national mourning with all kinds of accompanying phenomena? [. . .] So many facts, questions, and riddles! It should be obvious that we have here a special form of derangement.Karl Barth, The Christian Life. Church Dogmatics IV/4: Lecture Fragments, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1981)
I can guess how Lincoln Harvey would respond to this!