Sport is an industry and exists in the fiscal world of supply and demand. The administrators, coaches, doctors, physiotherapists and the rest all work in this industry. These people craft information and apply years of experience and learning to keep clubs, players and the League or Association running. Nice work if you can get it.
Unsure About The Work of Sport
The question that comes to my mind is about the players, the games and seasons played. Is sport work? A question that most people would answer in the affirmative is one I find myself vacillating over. I am unsure.
We watch sport and for those who input the statistics for Champion Data, watching sport is work. Providing data for the clubs and those playing fantasy football is a paid job that produces a product. Do footballers and cricketers produce a product?
The Olympics, which was supposed to happen this year in Tokyo, is a Product. It is produced for television to the entire world. Whole nations spend millions on their athletes. For Australia it is a point of pride that we punch above our weight. Yet are the athletes working?
Basic Human Condition-ing
At this point I have to introduce Hannah Arendt. A philosopher of the twentieth century. She posed in her work “The Human Condition” three essential common states of human beings. Labor, Work and Action.
“The Human Condition” is Arendt’s Work. She spent time crafting it, asking the questions and learning the skills to bring the book into existence. While Arendt was Working on the book she was existing. Eating, breathing, moving, performing the basic Labor we all need for daily existence.
Before and during the time of Working on her book Arendt thought and mused about the human condition. The Action of these thoughts enabled the Work of crafting what would become called “The Human Condition”.
In light of this I ask is Sport Work? Because I can see the Coaches planning and instructing. The Doctors and Physiotherapists treating and operating. Even the Administrators, Presidents and CEO’s negotiating is Work, sometimes. But the players?
Go Back to the Start
If we look at the dawn of sport we see the games that were played often by children. We see original Olympic events. Who can run the fastest, who can throw the furthest, the best wrestler, who can lift the heaviest load.
These tasks are labor’s. Labor’s that shift into specialisation or excellence. In the Basque lands, Scotland and Iceland the specialisation of stone lifting is traditional. In Iceland to lift the stone proved you could work on the fishing boats. For the Basque each town had their champion who battled in a contest against champions from other towns.
Sport develops out of physical actions. Labors, not Works which produce a table, a book or something else. The Action of thinking is what develops the rules and structures creating a sport. The Work of that Action generates Sport that is performed on the physical abilities along with the Works to create the equipment required to play.
An Echo Rises From The Cauldron
Hang on……What is that in the background? I can hear a song echoing and resounding. “Hear the barrackers are shouting, as all barracks should…” And there is more. “”It’s the anthem of the team we love.” “We’re the team that never let’s you down, we’re the only team all Carlton knows.” “You will see us with a grin, Risking head and chin.”
Ok. So Sport creates something. But is it only the players? Because Sport when boiled down to its physical base is Labor. There is another arena which Sport enters. Performance.
Without the crowd. Without Parents and Grandparents. Without the locals who flock to see the game. Sport is just Labor. When it is displayed. Performed. Just like Theatre, like a Circus, like a Painting or a Sculpture. Sport becomes a Work. Each game is its own Work.
Each game is a collaborative Work. Not just between players, but between the players, the crowd and even the past games. How? A game between Collingwood and Carlton is a grudge match because of the history between the two clubs. The collaboration between the two teams has been going since they first played each other.
An entire season is a collaboration. The culmination of the Grand Final is one of a whole season of games being played. Sport is more than just the Labor. It is an interconnected cultural collaboration. Seasonally repeated. Olympics, Premier League, World Series, World Cup, Test Match, Open, Tournament. All are a Work that is remembered like the feats of yore. Etched in History.
Which is why, when the stadiums are empty. When the fans are not able to attend the game. That the matches look wrong. Divested of the games interactive collaboration by fans the performance is ruined. It is just a few guys running around with a ball. Even the historical context is removed due to the dissonance. It is (dare I say) unprecedented.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.