Herbert Colborne Oakley (1869 - 1944)
The Concerned Citizen
SPORT AND A SENSE OF PROPORTION
To the Editor of the "West Wales Guardian"
Sir,- What an exaggerated estimate men make of sport today! To be recognized as a "sport" is tantamount to being classed and placed among the heroes of our race. Do you work hard in the fields following the plough earning your daily bread - hard earned from mother earth - do you toil in intellectual fields in the domain of science, literature and the fine arts - if so you are doomed to comparative obscurity and neglect. You are likely to be "unhonoured and unsung". The root essence of sport was and is a relaxation, rest and recreation from the stern business of our daily lives; now, sport is a stern business, pursued with relentless ardour and restless energy, and the rewards awaiting success are immediate, the recognition universal. We have lately seen another big and well advertised fight, and whatever there may have been of sport in the combat, money and mammon have been the ruling influence at work. Much of modern sport is above all things a money-making proposition, run on business lines. The great prize fights are more numerous than ever, and at this time it is incidentally worthy of note that when peace is desired, when the nations are dreading the impact of war, our children are being nurtured in the ideals, ambitions and languages of the ring. Is this propaganda for peace? may we ask.
The law does not permit cock-fighting, but it is perfectly legal, honourable and a paying concern if two men meet and bash each other well nigh out of recognition. Despite the theory that mankind is descended from the ape, there are and will be many who believe that man was made in God's image, and that is why, being so made, he is worth the price paid for his redemption. Are we content to see that divine image damaged and degraded in the fierce onslaught of a devastating fight? - a fight, not as the outcome of legitimate offence and defence, but simply and solely to gratify an animal instinct, which, being in the sacred name of sport, is permitted, applauded, and admired, nay emulated, by countless admirers?
No sensible person desires to speak with detriment of sport, real recreative sport is a necessity, which, if and when it degenerates into a hard sordid business, loses its original and essential character and must finally defeat its own ends. Meanwhile, let us beware of making sport a religion and sportsmen idols. A sense of proportion will save us much and leave us sane and serene. - Yours &c.,
June 6th, 1934
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