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Thread: Evolutional Basis For Sport

  1. #1 Evolutional Basis For Sport 
    Forum Sophomore Vaedrah's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    A lot of people seem to be overly obsessed with sport, either participating in the rituals or just observing others so engaged. Unlike play, engaged in by humans and animals, any evolutionary advantage for a sport ambition seems obscure.

    Sport is an organized competition, so could it be considered as a legacy from earlier species intend on seizing status in social hierarchies or prominence in the conquests for sexual reproduction? If so, do people engaged in sport actions achieve more prominence than say a national leader? Do people engaged in sport produce greater numbers of offspring? Do people that just observe others engaged in sport demonstrate any life benefit from the behavior?

    Perhaps I am wrong; I can imagine animals engaged in conflict over food, territory, social status or reproduction. But I am unaware of our fellow animals engaging in competitive sport - where competitive sport and "play" don't seem to be that similar.

    If this is correct, does "sport" separate us from the animal kingdom? There are many things that don't - animals show intelligence as do (sometimes) we. Monkeys can identify themselves in a mirror suggesting self awareness. (They also use twigs as tools to remove ants). Whether we have "souls" and animals don't, of whether souls exist at all, or whether all life has a "spirit / soul" is unanswerable given an absence of credible measurement design.

    If sport distinguishes us from other animals, why did it develop during our evolution? I assume for now that we accept "evolution" as a conjecture. What benefit would it serve compared to the methods of inter-member conflicts I mentioned earlier. More importantly, how would sport have started?

    Evolution is witnessed on the small scale "micro-evolutionary stage" but not on the large scale "macro-evolutionary stage". Perhaps this is because we only get intermittent "snap shots" in the fossil record over time, missing the bigger jumps out. Could the same be said of the evolution of sport?

    Do all cultures play "sport'? For example, do remote African bushmen play "sport" or is this a recent sociological phenomenon.

    It may be claimed that "sport" helps keep people fit, but given that the majority of people seem to just observe (in front of TV) and not participate, this theory seems questionable. Further, exercise does not need competition to motivate its engagement. Simply walking rather than taking a car will address many fitness deficiencies in people, without any need to be competitive.

    So does "sport" separate us from our fellow animal creatures? If so, could "sport" be the only thing that unambiguously does? Does "sport" have some evolutionary basis? Does "sport" fulfill some other function today? Is our current cultural obsession with "sport" merely an aberration in our makeup or can real advantages actually be demonstrated in the general public giving accommodation to a daily dose of sport, either in a passive or active way? I guess also, if such advantage can be shown, will future generations evolve towards an even greater obsession with competitive sport?

    "The sky cannot speak of the ocean, the ocean cannot speak of the land, the land cannot speak of the stars, the stars cannot speak of the sky"
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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Apologies for a brief reply to a long post. The brevity of this reply does not reflect a lack of respect for the original question.

    Sport is play, amended by the power of the human intellect to complicate things.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Many animals will often display what is called a displacement behavior - they have a certain emotion or drive to do something, and for one reason or another they cannot do that thing, so they do something else similar in order to sate the drive. For example, baboons in a strict dominance hierarchy will exhibit displaced aggression. A dominant individual has attacked and harassed them, but being a subordinate there is little they can do about it. So they in tern attack and harass and even more subordinate individual.

    Human evolution was likely characterized by high levels of intergroup competition and within-group cooperation. Competition-driven violence against other groups was probably common, as it is in chimpanzees. In today's society, however, most nations are developing a more gregarious world view, and most people benefit more from cooperation than they do from competition. This competitive drive, however, is by no means gone, even if it is suppressed to a degree. This drive can be (relatively) safely sated by competitive sports. Even people not participating in the sport themselves can get some satiation simply by watching and rooting for their favorite team.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Duke of Essex's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Windsor, Ontario
    Sport is entertaining, people have always wanted to be entertained even long before Gladiator days.

    Olympians strive to achieve, because winning is one of the greatest victories of anykind to a Human Being. It most likely started with war, which led to dangerous competitions, which then led to kind hearted competitions that we see today as sport.

    It's evolutionary only to humans, and for human pleasure.
    Keep on Rockin' in the freeworld!
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