the disaster of sport


F or those who are dreading the next two weeks – for those for whom the last seven years, since the dramatic announcement of London’s appointment as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games, have been a torment – the French academic Marc Perelman’s polemic could not be more perfect; an ideal accompaniment, perhaps, to a fortnight that might best be spent, for the naysayers, doubters and outright opponents, in an isolation tank. Not that Barbaric Sport confines its withering contempt to the Olympics – although it does, somewhat opportunistically, lead off with them; football also comes in for a drubbing and, although other forms of sport get comparatively passing mentions, it would be a perverse reader who put this book down feeling licensed to be a supporter of – well, anything. There are few evils that Perelman doesn’t lay at the door of competitive sport, which he carefully contrasts with (and, indeed, blames for depriving us of) play, “a disinterested activity without material goals, ludic and free”.

more from Alex Clark at the TLS here.