On air: Is sport a great healer?

Heba: Here’s an article on the divisive nature of sport. Hitchens reckons it brings out the worst in human nature. It’s a sentiment echoed by blogger, Walter Todd Huston, here.

Four years ago who ever thought this would be happening when 85 percent of the city was under water from Hurricane Katrina.  Most people not knowing if New Orleans would ever come back or if the organization and the team would come back. This is the culmination of that belief and that faith.”  This is what Drew Brees the most valued player and quarterback of the Saints American Football team said after his team won the Super Bowl for the first time.

The city of New Orleans is celebrating and there were more crowds out in Bourbon Street than in Mardi Gras.
This power”>blogger says sport has the power of healing, just like that years of governmental neglect and entrenched racism are washed clean.
This isn’t just the case for New Orleans, the film Invictus is all about how the South African Rugby team played its role in nation building, just after Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
Legacy and regeneration is an important part of the Olympic games and why a city is chosen to host them. This is the case for London 2012 and Rio 2016 ,as the first South American city to hold the games.
So why can sport be seen as a healer? Does sport play a role in uniting a country or continent? And can a sporting event be vital in helping to regenerate city? Or is sport  just a great divider which can cause riots and even wars?

82 Responses to “On air: Is sport a great healer?”

  1. 1 Hafiz Qasir Abbas
    February 8, 2010 at 12:48

    sports are not a way just to keep health. It does not mean to feel bodily good and perfect. Playing a game does not only mean to have energy refreshed. Sports are sure way to unite a nation into one unit. These are a way to create national unity. it gives people a chance to get their feelings united. Festivals and rituals are not only purpose of sports but sports means to have a spark which ignites flame of nationalism.
    Here I would to add an example, “Asehs series” between England and Australia is not only a cricket tournament but it has gained a position of emotional game between Aussies and English.
    On the other hand, so many matches are being played in order to raise funds. so sports are adding to the rehabilitation of this world

  2. 2 James Ian
    February 8, 2010 at 13:03

    Can you say “Exaggerated” Really it’s just a game. I believe the Super Bowl and all the hype around it is just another excuse for people to get drunk, over eat and behave like dorks. It’s just a money makeing event for big companies. Some of these peopel go out, spend money on sports junk, beer and over priced tickets then get in line at the unemployment office. They can spend money on their super bowl party but tell thier kids they don’t have the money to buy them a new pair of shoes, clothes or school supplies. The can buy their beer and stuff for the big game but they can’t pay their mortgage or the rent.
    If you want to go see a good game, go watch your kid play. That investment will pay dividends for you and your child not some big company.

  3. 3 Nigel
    February 8, 2010 at 13:24

    Sport is all about making money….nothing else! Because the stakes are so high it creates more division than healing. N’orelans win has nothing to do with Katrina. That is pure hype and money making hyperbole.

  4. 4 Jibril Zakari
    February 8, 2010 at 13:27

    I think in the case of New Orleans, sports could be seen as a healer because it brought back joy and happiness to the inhabitants of this city for the first time since the devastating hurricane Katrina that occured couple of years ago. However,sports in the general perspective creates great animosity and rivalry between people of thesame country, culture,and religion.For example, world cup qualification football match between Egypt and Algeria resulted in the clash of their supporters which left several people injured and a strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.

  5. 5 T
    February 8, 2010 at 13:35

    Done the right way, yes. But keep in mind the bottom line: it’s a business.

  6. 6 patti in cape coral
    February 8, 2010 at 13:40

    Congratulations to New Orleans! I’m not into sports and I do think people give it WAY too much importance; however, I think at this time it was really important for New Orleans to have something to celebrate.

  7. 7 T
    February 8, 2010 at 13:49

    It can be. This leads to other questions that could promote healing:

    Is American football really that much worse than proper football?
    We admit it. The States stole cricket, turned it into baseball. And said it’s a “totally original American game”.
    Deep down, all Americans know that the World Cup is THE sporting event. But the Super Bowl is one of those American marketing things. So try not to be too harsh, ok?
    In the States, a pub is a bar. If you ask for a pint, 99% of the bartenders will have no clue what you’re saying. If you say VAT, most people will think it’s a university entrance test.

    • 8 Linda from Italy
      February 8, 2010 at 17:36

      I always thought baseball was a variation on rounders, something I was dragooned into playing at my all girls’ school, with much simpler rules than cricket.
      American ” football” = rugby for cissies with all that protective gear and not a cauliflower ear in site
      😉 No offence meant to my US friends, sport is after all only a game..

      • 9 Linda from Italy
        February 8, 2010 at 17:39

        Oops typos, maybe sport does rot the brain after all:
        I always thought baseball was a variation on rounders, something I was dragooned into playing at my all girls’ school, with much simpler rules than cricket.
        American ” football” = rugby for sissies with all that protective gear and not a cauliflower ear in sght
        ;- No offence meant to my US friends, sport is after all only a game..

  8. February 8, 2010 at 14:24

    The Super Bowl has helped focus minds on sport, recreation and competition. Sport is a great healer. It helps to divert minds from the stresses and strains of life. Played in the right spirit, it brings out the best in human kind. Competition has always been ingrained in people’s minds. Team competition has taken pride of place. From competition has arisen the need for team building and team spirit; The importance of teams and team work are also seen in everyday life in work and in play.Sport embodies healthy competition so vital in human activity. It has remarkable healing overtones. It helps people forget tragedies and look at the brighter side of life. Hurricane Katrina devastated people’s lives. Hopefully the Super Bowl will lift people’s spirits!

  9. 11 Idris Dangalan
    February 8, 2010 at 14:47

    Nope in African continent because of recent world-cup qualifier between Algeria and Egypt while Togolese case in Angola. To me sport is pleasure box if you want refresh yourself just open and takes what? You wish to but sport as unity agent, absolutely no in my continent and country.

  10. 12 Roberto
    February 8, 2010 at 14:49

    RE “” Drew Brees the most valued player and quaterback “”

    ——— Might want to edit your “quarterback” typo.

    As to the thread, Brees and the rest of the NO team have been instrumental in working with the residents and city in good works types of projects, so they are quite popular among local residents.

    I count myself fortunate to have seen Brees play on the stored Westlake team in highschool. He is the prototypical swaggering gunslinger type of q-back knowing he’s the fast draw with the best moves in town and anyone can see how exciting his execution of plays is.

    He is not a cookie cutter player that the NFL combine produces, being a small man not being blessed with the size and strength the NFL values above all. He rather strikes a blow for “the lesser man” who lack the connections and great natural attributes but when given the chance succeeds beyond his more talented peers.

    It was a great game up for grabs until the waning moments when the game was put away for keeps. Great that Brees and NO found each other, but New Orleans has a long way to go, not the least being justifying the sheer numbers living below sea level between where the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River converge.

    Most have been forced out from the hurricane, but it was the height of insipid regional planning that developed what was destroyed. I’m not convinced peoples can ever learn their lessons since mankind continues to recycle the same old miseries from century to century, but it feels good in the moment, so good show Saints………

  11. 13 Ronald Almeida
    February 8, 2010 at 14:49

    Sport is deffinitely a healer to those who hate to think. And what did thought give us beyond the idiocy that we live in today?

  12. 14 Elizabeth Kuranchie
    February 8, 2010 at 15:13

    It’s more than a healer!There are a lot of things that keeps bothering people when they are not involved in any sporting activities.But when one is engaged in sports,psychologically, it reducessome sort of depression and builds up the psyche.
    Physically,it strenghtens the muscles and repair wornout tissues within the body.
    Personally,I play golf almost everyday and it really strenghtens me and keep my fit. Isuggest everybody should be involved in sports

  13. 15 steve
    February 8, 2010 at 15:18

    Wow, a topic about sports becomes USA bashing, again. Shocking.

  14. 16 Peter Gizzi UK
    February 8, 2010 at 15:22

    What we call “sport” these days is all to often actually a money making business and I include the Olympics which though supposedly amatuer is anything but that..

    True sport is usually friendly competition between 2 or more unpaid participants. Swimming I’m told exercises the whole body and the mind and can be done alone.

    Locally when certain football teams are visiting to play our local team there may be 50 police blocking our High Street and a police helicopter hovering noisily overhead for around 3 hours! Is that sport and whopays?

    As for New Orleans I know nothing about American Football but if it has helped them knit together as a city then that is good, but is it a sport?

  15. 17 John in Salem
    February 8, 2010 at 15:25

    Since we all know you wouldn’t be asking this question if the Saints had lost the answer is obviously no.

  16. 18 usman shehu
    February 8, 2010 at 15:40

    From 1887,from 1930 to date, decade after decate, countries meet countries. From GREECE to SOUTH AFRICA. From best of RONALDO to best of ZIDANE. From European cup to premiership to laliga to serie A to champion league to world club cup. Billions of viewers watch over sports.

  17. 19 guykaks
    February 8, 2010 at 15:51

    Sport is a great healer to the old and people who are vision less.But for New Orleans a sense of relieve to them this time

  18. 20 Gary Paudler
    February 8, 2010 at 15:59

    On air: Is Sport an Impulsion to Hyperbole? Any social or spiritual expression related to sport, or in the case of “healing” a medical expression, is purely metaphorical and you’re asking if it is real. A professional football team with “New Orleans” in their name won a game while many people who lost their homes arguably because their government failed to heed warnings that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-designed, built and inspected levee would fail and are still without homes because their government has persistently failed to help them. It’s only Monday, let’s give it a few days and see what sort of healing results from sports.

  19. 21 Idris Dangalan
    February 8, 2010 at 16:11

    It is encourange and unity for world-cup finalist to start think of coming to first African worldcup host in South Africa, because of what they called insecurity. Why? this issue arise,is this unity or discrimmenation? Some countries start thinking of life-vest for fans and withdrew their online ticket booking, are these means unity or healer?

    February 8, 2010 at 16:28

    Sports is ment to maintain physical health but that cannot be said to the mordern horse-race type reduced to a small clique of celebraties while the rest vegetate on the benches.
    These fanatic type money minting types however can be used to diagnose a stressed society. Stressed working-class-populations will gate crush to a stadium in order to exercise their loss of power in terms of social commitments. In the 80s, there were fatalities resulting from collapsing stadia (Wembley) produced by a populace faced with economic hardships. There are less suicidal football football fans in Brazil now since the improvement of its economy.
    Sports is only good when it is part of a culture of everyday-live in real sence. If it unites, it is only momentarily and this does not obsqure the fact that its just a short stint of bought nationalism with scanty dollars.

  21. 23 Kate M.
    February 8, 2010 at 16:43

    I didn’t watch it because I find watching paint dry more exciting than football but I did tune into the end. I am glad New Orleans won because they had never won the Super Bowl until last night.
    Sports do bring people together. At the end of the game my neighbors set off fireworks and a lot of them came outside to talk. That group mentality can turn ugly but I think it does more good than bad. There are many studies that show children involved in sports get better grades and are less likely to join gangs. That is definitely a good thing.

  22. February 8, 2010 at 16:50

    In short, both, which is what makes sport so important.
    The same could be said of politics, religion, etc. It is the emotion that brings out more of a truthful representation of the picture that human nature paints.
    We all know, at times, it isn’t pretty. But this is something we must confront not deny.
    I also think to really know sport, you have to follow it, and not just when a story exists that captivates the country, but also during those down times when nobody is paying attention.
    Believe me, I’ve been a Saints fan for 25 years, and many of those years were spent living in Texas where life is all about the Cowboys and pledging allegiance to another team is like taking your life in your own hands. The majority of those years, there was NOTHING written about New Orleans other than articles by local media. They were one of the league’s forgotten teams. A media black hole. “The Most Disfunctional Team in the NFL,” according to one of the few stories crafted during these years.
    Last night a journalist friend stopped by, a non-football watcher, and after sitting with me for five minutes said, “How do you know all this stuff, I thought it was just a bunch of big guys running around.”
    I knew it because, at least in my mind, I’m a real fan. Who Dat!

  23. 25 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Rumbek,Southern Sudan
    February 8, 2010 at 17:06

    No; I dont think so,as to my understanding of sports,its can influence an individual or a nation to be in a differenc mood but not to heal.Look at Egypt vs Elgeria World Cup qualification & their meeting in African Cup of Nation Semis respectively.Have Eghptian fans get heal when the shockingly beaten their fierce rival in the semis to revenge on their WorldCup exit? absolutely not.Will Algerian/Egptian fans go & roam in Algers/Cairo because of previous result? not.

  24. 26 Alby
    February 8, 2010 at 17:14

    Seems to be a new Opiate for the Masses here!

    While they’re getting ripped off and their kids at the same time, grown men spend all their time on this transference .

    They spend no time on news and politics, and their minds turn to mush!

    It is another evil trick by the ruling elites who invented this stuff and continue to promulgate it while they have their way with the Public Treasury!

    Pro sports was invented in Pittsburgh in like 1913 to keep the factory boys occupied and drunk at the ball field, on their one day off a week, instead of talking amongst and organizing themselves to rabble rouse for labor rights and more pay!

    It has been the same story ever since and the stakes are oh so much higher!

  25. 27 gary indiana
    February 8, 2010 at 17:15

    Healer may be a bit dramatic; but substantial unifier is certainly true. For many people a sense of place includes, besides other familar things, a home team. Yes some people will make a great deal of money because of the Saint’s victory, but every fan takes home a feeling of pride in the accomplishment. Some 0f the money and most of the pride will stay in New Orleans, where it will certainly have positive impact.

  26. 28 Linda from Italy
    February 8, 2010 at 17:25

    Professional sport is a branch of show-biz and yes, inevitably big business. It is entertainment for people who enjoy it as a spectator sport, so if it cheers people up if their team wins, or gives then something relatively trivial and to gripe about if they lose (and naturally it was all the ref’s fault), so it must produce at least a temporary respite from other problems, although I think “healer” is maybe a mite pretentious.
    As a (proper – please can we ban the word soccer from this blog?) football fan and English to boot (no pun intended) I love nothing better than getting all worked up, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, screaming and yelling at the TV set at successive World Cups when, the “boys” fail miserably yet again. I’m extra lucky these days as I also have Italy to cheer on, who are allowed to get away with much more nefarious behaviour than the uptight English but do manage to get the ball in the net with a bit of style occasionally.

  27. 29 Tamatoa, Zurich
    February 8, 2010 at 17:26

    Maybe we should ask the other way round.

    Which processes of watching a sporting event as a group have healing qualities? I think that doing something in unity is very healing for the soul. Doing something together without having any doubt that a member of the group could hurt another member of the group is very reassuring for the individual and for its soul.

    I think Unity is the great(est) healer. And rooting for a team is an activity that you can do as a group. The motives of the group members are simple. We enjoy the same shared feelings as a united group. And this process usually happens during sport events.

    Problem: We shouldn’t support a team whilst perceiving the other team as an “enemy”. We must remember that our highest motive must be to support the sport – a number of people playing a game together to develop and to bring eachother happiness.

  28. 30 kate in morocco
    February 8, 2010 at 17:29

    It’s amazing how impactful sport can be in healing. The first example that comes to mind is the story of the Fugees– an organization outside Atlanta, Georgia that has created a network, support, and truly a family for refugee youth in the area through soccer/football. For more information, see http://www.fugeesfamily.org/.

  29. 31 Damian
    February 8, 2010 at 17:30

    Sports is big business and opium for the masses. it’s like a high followed by depression. Sports can’t heal because sports is superficial and akin to binge drinking. It’s basically a scam and the people who follow it are dupes. That pay exorbitant prces for a seat to pay for multi-million dollar contracts to a lot of people who cannot even speak the language properly. It’s not a healer–it’s a sickness.

  30. 32 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 8, 2010 at 17:30

    Sports are fine but I abhor the huge money machine that international sport has become. Player’s salaries, advertising income, gambling and so on are all scandalous.

    I also object to sporting figures being celebrated as heros. The real heros in the world are the medical teams who dropped an ran to Haiti after the earthquake, aid workers in war zones, election monitors in volatile areas.

    A game is a game is a game. I quite agree with what James Ian said above: If you want to go see a good game, go watch your kid play.

  31. 33 Robert Macala
    February 8, 2010 at 17:31

    Sports is just another opiate for the masses. Just finished the Super Bowl here in Miami,
    next day the real problems are here….America is still being sucked dry in the sands of the middle East (someone says we are spending 56,000 dollars a minute on defense), we are politically crippled through suicidal polarization, Sarah Palin is actually taken seriously as a political statesman (statesperson)…you betcha, George Bush in pantyhose, another puppet taking orders from the neo-con puppeteers…..Hey, but the New Orlean Saints won…Wow! and it’s Monday and America is still not used to a Black Quarterback in the White House…so they are throwing tea bags…

  32. 34 Njabulo Zwane
    February 8, 2010 at 17:33

    What an interesting topic, it is so funny reading some people’s comment and knowing how some people think about sport especially those who do not partake in sports, i agree sport is a great healer, basing my argument in all aspect say from athlete to officials to spectators or supportes – SPORT IS A GREAT HEALER.
    can we take for instance one popular sport FOOTBALLL, as South Africa is hosting the FIFA2010 World Cup, wartorne and poverty stricken countries have put aside all their suffering and foccusing on chances of winning the world cup, with government suppprt and other non governmental organisation bucking behind, we need also to consider the positive impact that was left in Germany after the World cup and people will agree with me that when weighing the good and the bad of sport, the good can be over 90% while the bad can be less than 10%

    ”forwad with sport partisipation”

  33. 35 nora
    February 8, 2010 at 17:35

    Leave out the Superbowl and the question becomes more positive. Physical sport provides a fine temple for the soul and the joys of fine honed cooperation.

    Sport is a metaphor for war, a safe channel until the metaphor breaks like the shell on an egg and underlying conflicts take the field.

    Bring Superbowl back in…SUPERBOWL SUNDAY was once the statistically highest day for domestic violence in America. The obscenely high cost of advertising has brought more women out of the kitchen and in front of the tube, so they can share the Janet Jackson crucifiction with their daughters and the 4 hour erection warnings with their sons. The real gladiators are offstage lifting cash machines.

  34. 36 Ibrahim in UK
    February 8, 2010 at 17:41

    Sports brings people together for a common cause, and lets them feel as part of something bigger. Struggle together and urge the team on when it’s doing bad, and celebrate together when the team wins. Both the togetherness and the winning are rewarding, granting a sense of achievement and pride. Tomorrow, when facing the troubles of the world, they tackle these problems armed with that can-do sense of achievement and pride.
    If winning is “healing”, I wonder if the reverse is true for losing.

  35. 37 Andrew in Australia
    February 8, 2010 at 17:44

    Have to go with Chris Hitchens on this. By the very nature of having teams or individuals competing against each other ensures there will be more than healthy competition but intrinsic hostility. We see time and again how opponents will attack each other during the course of a game and (especially in European football) how fans berate players, issue racist taunts or fight amongst each other. In many instances sport is merely an excuse to justify a fight. Were sport a healing activity then we would see all spectators cheering both sides and congratulate even losing teams or opposing teams for their great play, there would be no hostility at all. But we don’t see this. Even in one on one competitions there is aggression that transcends desire to win and competitiveness. Sport is a de facto battle, a way of sublimating aggression to a field of play, always has been always will be.

  36. 38 subra
    February 8, 2010 at 17:44

    Sports teach us sportmanship which is lacking in most people not pracvtising sports.
    Sports inculcate discipline. Look at the great stars, once they are shown a red card the bow their head and go to the dressing room, without protest.
    Money betting is something that is different from sports and it is doing much damage to sports.

  37. 39 nora
    February 8, 2010 at 17:45

    All issues aside, Congrats to the Saints and their fans, and great that the economy and morale in the Big Easy gets a leg up.

  38. 40 Elias
    February 8, 2010 at 17:46

    Sports is just sports, it brings out the best and worst in people. A great healer?, depends on a person’s point of view, nothing more!.

  39. 41 DOLAPO AINA
    February 8, 2010 at 17:46

    Sports is a great healer albeit temporary one. But it works wonders. In Nigeria, it brings diverse people even enemies together. The stories are many. People even go on short hunger strike in the family homes if the national team performs badly. Less talk of fans of the English premier league.
    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  40. February 8, 2010 at 18:02

    I’m shocked at the obvious prejudice and contempt some of the posts reveal towards anything sport. I do not know much about NFL and super bowl but i’m sure that sport divides as much as it unites communities. As for the ‘healing’ bit, i think it’s always transient. Just for the moment of celebration. After that, people pretty soon get back to their awfully real situations. From where i sit, the score is even!

  41. 43 adam J Carroll - cleveland - us
    February 8, 2010 at 18:03

    while sports have become big business it is still competition. Competition has led to many great feats throughout history which has also given us great devastation. the arms race between the US and the USSR was a competition which did no good but the space race has done good. its all in the context in which it is done. when the competition is done for greed and ego alone it is of no use. looking at this topic should remind us all how to live the more virtuous manner to which the philosophers of times past and present have outlined. and Go Saints

  42. February 8, 2010 at 18:12

    Anything that brings people together has the potential to heal and grow new, positive awareness. It was the integration of sports teams in the US that helped our society chip away at overt prejudice. It is the great players from Africa that help bring awareness of the various African nations to the fore. Etc. Etc.

    Equality requires respect, and respect is a slippery fish. When the “fish” is caught “on the field”, spectators are served a meal they might or might not relish at first taste, but the fact that sports serves this meal over and over again can make a difference. Players and owners may take home big paychecks, but it is the public that chances the biggest payback of all: the “in your face” challenge to respect men and women for their specific talents (rather than blindly denigrate because of how they look or think). To my mind, the more opportunities for contact with specific and agreed on “rules of the game”, the broader our potential appreciation of each other.

    I am not a “sports person”, but I am glad for the possibilities that sports adds to the civilizing of our world.

  43. 45 Sena
    February 8, 2010 at 18:12

    hi guys
    sport is a great healer cos it makes one look fit , strong n very active in doing or performing any activities. moreover its serves as an income for those who performs it.

  44. 46 steve
    February 8, 2010 at 18:14

    reminder to the socialists here, even the soviets were big into sports, and wanted to excel at sports, hence all the cheating they and the east germans did in the olympics.

    Also reminder to the US lefties, the european lefties love soccer. Being a lefty doesn’t mean you have to hate sports. Just because NPR doesn’t cover sports, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

    • 47 Linda from Italy
      February 8, 2010 at 23:44

      As a European and probably by your Tea Party definition, a “leftie”, FOOTBALL is the real thing that the rest of the world actually likes watching, unlike your weird US aberrations.
      Who gives a toss about the Olympics? Only maybe your Capitalist Chinese friends who are just as bad at football as the US is.
      Maybe this is an example of sport being divisive, but those of us in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and a few parts of Asia, are terminally bored by your “World Series” and “Super Bowl” in which only you take part in so it hardly rates as entertainment.
      The New Orleans win made the news only because it was a represented a fight back by a city that the rest of the US had written off as not sufficiently conservative, middle-aged, white and with more than a touch of red about the neck.
      Sport may not be “healer”, but at least it can galvanize people and remind them that they are part of a wider community.

  45. February 8, 2010 at 18:36

    I remember back in 1947 when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first black man to play in major league baseball. He was an exciting player to watch, and when he got on base the fans cheered him on to steal second and third.

    For most of the Fifties the Dodgers brought in more black players and dominated the National League. And the community responded.

    Then in 1958 money won out and the Dodgers were moved to Los Angeles. I think that was the beginning of the end for baseball. Now money and hype rule the game.

    February 8, 2010 at 18:46

    As for healing, I think it is only one side that gets elation. I once saw a few boys crying with tears when Mike Tyson was beaten by Lenox (some cannot agree that he bit someones ear) and when the German team lost in World Cup in Korea – you get yourself killed. A kid hang himself here when Arsenal or ManU lost a game. You call that healing?
    The joy of mordern sport is about humiliating your opponent no matter what strategy of coverup is in play.
    Most powerless people take sports or movies for what it is not and depending on the circumstances you should be careful while celebrating victory. You can get yourself killed if you don’t take note of who is watching you. Chances are they may not know what they are doing to you. Most fans earn gibberish while the organizers and the player go dancing all the way to the bank. My point is – go out there but please be careful.

  47. 50 nora
    February 8, 2010 at 18:55

    Superbowl Sunday has an ignominious history and was identified by domestic violence activists in the seventies and eighties as the spike point in the predictable cycles of holiday alcohol related family violence. An uplifting experience of cheering for New Orleans may indicate a good year, less beatings…I didn’t watch because i don’t wwillingly mix the manipulative politics of right wing anti-abortion advertisers with my love of sport.

  48. 51 Alex V - Chicago
    February 8, 2010 at 19:10

    Sport has never been perceived as a division method. It is supposed to unite people.

  49. February 8, 2010 at 19:13

    Sport is not a great healer. Brazil went to Haiti to heal the place by playing football, and the problems there continue today. The Iraqi football team didn’t unite the country to the extent that the violence there stopped, healing the wounds of the war.

    If sport has healed New Orleans, does that mean they’ll stop going on about Hurricane Katrina? Many cities that are poorer than New Orleans have been devestated by hurricanes and other natural disasters and they don’t bang on about it as much as New Orleans, or wait for a local sports team to win a major sports event before getting over it.

  50. 53 Todd in Atlanta
    February 8, 2010 at 19:16

    Maybe I need to study my history a bit more; I don’t ever remember hearing about sports causing wars as suggested by your question… until you mentioned it regarding El Salvador…

    Sports definitely IS a great uniting force as history has shown repeatedly. It clearly illustrates that huge populations can put deep differences aside, and come together for a cause. The only problem is that it is almost always short-lived, and probably highlights an even bigger issue: people have a very SHORT memory.

    Suggestion: Maybe when such events take place, social organizations can use the opportunity to set-up workshops in and around the events to engage people in some sort of dialogue while the euphoria is high. Maybe…

  51. 54 Eric in France
    February 8, 2010 at 19:17


    Sport is a business that thrives on emotion. So yes it can heel or destroy community relationships. France won some football cup in the past that eases for a while the cultural divide. The recent hand from M. Henry that qualified the french team was disruptive in relationships.

    I wonder if sport is a heeler within a country. What about when Scotland beats England? In the USA, what sounds heeling for New Orleans state, how was it felt in the other state?


  52. 55 Chintan in Houston
    February 8, 2010 at 19:17

    Sport has no healing quality. It is so much politicized.

    Ask the Ireland football fans who got cheated out of the World cup due to a hand goal by an English player.
    Ask the Pakistani cricket players and the country of Paksitan who got snubbed out of the Indian cricket league in India.
    Ask the USSR players if they were happy to loose to USA in the ice hockey game in the winter Olympics of 1980 which in USA is known as ‘Miracle on Ice’

    Sports is a healer only if your team has won, it is not a permanent state of mind.

  53. February 8, 2010 at 19:22

    I for one was very happy the the Saints won the Super Bowl. But I feel it is imortant to mention that New Orleans has changed tremendously since hurrican Katrina. The once ‘chocalate city’ is now majority white, the new mayor is white (i like him BTW), the new city council is majority white. This new reality puts a different perspective on the comments of some of the guest (who all seem to be white) stating that it is a new beggining and that there are better times to come. Its a little troubling in some sense.

  54. 57 Bridgetown Barbados
    February 8, 2010 at 19:25

    I am from Barbados and a rabid cricket fan and yes cricket does play a role in uniting us here in the Caribbean, although many will say we had more unity when our West Indies cricket team was on top of the world! (P.s tune in tonight for the 2nd ODI between West Indies and Australia.

    Last night was my first time watching USA football, I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that this game is played more with a ball under the arm than on the tips of the toes. Nevertheless it was a great comeback for the Saints and I think it will help to revitalise the city and state with more investment in youth and sports.

    This is a good article readers may want to look at Can the Saints Really Save New Orleans? How a Super Bowl Victory Could Enhance the Health of a City http://tinyurl.com/yjp9ysm

  55. 58 T
    February 8, 2010 at 19:25

    In the spirit of intl. cooperation, since Americans stole cricket, turned it into baseball and have made millions. Do we have to pay the U.K. royalties?

  56. 59 T
    February 8, 2010 at 19:28

    I agree with Dr II. In 2010, why is it big news that the new New Orleans mayor is white?

  57. February 8, 2010 at 19:30

    Playing any sport is invigorating, endorphin-producing and longevity-promoting. Organized sports contributes to social cohesion and celebration.

    However, televised sport-watching serves as a time-filling distraction, along with sitcoms, soapy “dramatic” programming, and news programming packaged by the corporatocracy, from attending to the real forces at work in our society. With the strict rule adherence and enforcement in organized sports, the illusion is reinforced that we live in a lawful, orderly society while massive lawless, amoral forces of war-making, financial manipulation, and political deception can operate in plain sight but unnoticed. We are lulled into a complacency to which we are not entitled, ignoring the winners and losers of real life who endure real suffering, unprotected by the rules easily circumvented by those in power.

    • 61 Steve from Belgium
      February 8, 2010 at 20:13

      I can agree with a lot you’re saying. And would like to add:
      You have to first ask: Is professional football really “sport”? Well, exertion and skill as a form of entertainment – yup, it meets that definition– but 99.9% of the people involved are spectators- as you said, they are not at all involved in the “sport”-

      And American football – a 60 minute game with about 26 minutes (less?) of actual ‘playing’ and yet the Super Bowl went on 4 hours– about 2.5 of which is selling and the rest standing around, cheering, huddling – and 26 minutes of action…

      Hey, great fun- but it’s not really “sport”- PLUS US football is VIOLENT- I mean this is like a chess game (in theory) where huge people in armor brutally bash against each other over and over again – It is a very violent game! Plus: THE AVERAGE PLAY LASTS 4 seconds…

      Back to the key question: Is “Sport” a great healer? Well, no – it’s a good excuse to party

  58. 62 Mr. Kawakubo {PORTLAND}
    February 8, 2010 at 19:34

    No. No. No! Competitive sport is not healing, nor will it ever be. Sure it can give an ego-boost to the winner, but even that is fleeting. The winning of a ‘game’ is one of the most substance-less and superficial affairs known to humankind. The fact that we endorse this barbarism shows how debased so much of humanity is. Rather then being some-kind of alleged coming together, or solution to the divisiveness of human cultures, competitive sport is actually part of the problem. Defining ourselves through allegiance to a ‘team’ is more pathetic then nationalism, because at least with nationalism one could perhaps align themselves with a political ideology, with sport, there is no substance to be found.

  59. 63 steve
    February 8, 2010 at 19:37

    Locally, sport is a unifier, but is a divider, in a wider scale. Michiganders and Ohians absolutely hate each other because of the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State. I’ve driven through Ohio with a Michigan sticker on my car and p eople would drive on the shoulder to kick up rocks at my car because they were Ohio State students. Had a gun pulled on me for wearing a Michigan hat in Ohio.

    As a native Marylander, we hate the Indianapolis Colts because they used to be in Baltimore and just up and moved away in 1984, and they are still not forgiven.. As a Washington Redskins fan, I absolutely hate the Dallas Cowboys, and their fans. I’m sure they hate us too. As an Orioles fans, and absolutely cannot stand the NY Yankees, and there was even an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine wears an Orioles hat to a Yankees game and causes a riot.

  60. 64 A.J.
    February 8, 2010 at 19:44

    Sport certainly brings people together. I lived in Chicago when the Bulls won their first and then several other championships. The first one was especially stunning. I saw all the people of the city come together and get along in a way I never thought I would see. Everybody was in love and were friends. The thing that struck me hardest, however, was how all of that energy and good will could be used for good deeds instead of being wasted on the celebration of a sports victory. Because, in the end, as I had predicted, all the good will faded, people went back to their lives, the poor remained poor, the city remained racially divided and we were all millions upon millions of dollars poorer and no more charitable than before.

  61. 65 Molly
    February 8, 2010 at 19:48

    Codswallop. Imagine if all of the money people spent on stadiums, player’s salaries, seats, and commercials had actually been spent on reconstruction in New Orleans. That would have led to far more healing than any false sense of accomplishment caused by the Super Bowl. I can’t imagine giving money to such a wildly wasteful, uncharitable organization for any reason whatsoever.

  62. 66 Tom D Ford
    February 8, 2010 at 19:48

    @ Jack
    February 8, 2010 at 19:30

    Well written, you nailed it on both aspects of sports.

    It can be healthy or it can be what the Romans called giving the people “pan et circenses”, bread and circuses, beer and spectacles.

  63. 67 Sandra Norton
    February 8, 2010 at 19:56

    I do believe that sports can be a great healer. In fact for us in the Caribbean the game of cricket and in particular the West Indies Cricket Team brings us all together. Even though there are times we disagree when we see our TEAM we become one big family.

    Congratulations to the SAINTS. I don’t understand American football but I always root for the underdog and was rooting for you all the way. ENJOY YOUR VICTORY.

  64. 68 Jessica in Indy
    February 8, 2010 at 19:58

    I think the effect will be long lasting. Here in Indianapolis we are still proud of our Colts and refer ourselves as World Champions, even though we are not the reigning champs. More important even than winning, however is the reputations of individual players in the community. One of the reasons the Colts are so well liked in Indy is because so many of the players serve as good role models and contribute both their time and money to the community. Congrats Saints!

  65. 69 Steve from Belgium
    February 8, 2010 at 20:15

    Is my comment going to appear or do we have BBC censorship (“moderation”) here? I find that hard to believe!

  66. 70 N.J.
    February 8, 2010 at 20:17

    Yes, I have to say I agree with the fact that a lot of money is wasted on sports. Especially in the developed nations. When a football, soccer or baseball player earns more money than doctors or nurses do, someone has misplaced their sense of priorities. Personally I almost never know when it is going to be “Superbowl Sunday” or when the World Cup is going to be held. I simply refuse to participate in any way with this sort of thing.

  67. 71 patti in cape coral
    February 8, 2010 at 21:27

    I understand WHYS is probably a blog for the deeper thinker, but just how anyone is able to bring this conversation around to socialists and US lefties is totally beyond me.

    @Linda in Italy – I think you may be right, american football may be rugby for sissies. I was listening to a story on the BBC about a rugby player who deliberately had his eye gouged by another player and has lost sight in that eye. It was kind of funny to hear him say that you used to only have to worry about guys stomping on your head, but now you have to worry about your eyes too!

    I also listened to a report on NPR about retired football players and how the brain damage the players suffer makes it hard for their wives to care for them. Some of these players become very violent and difficult, even though physically they are very strong and healthy. Imagine caring for someone with mental disease who is twice as big and strong as you… I would neither want to be a player or marry one. I’ m definitely a sissy.

  68. February 8, 2010 at 21:35

    sport can heal momentarily when you’re winning/win. it can give you heart attack when your losing/lose. one thing is certain, sports is one religion that accommodates everybody.

  69. 73 jens
    February 8, 2010 at 21:41

    Lins in Italy,

    SOCCER is an english word for guess what football. it is not the americans who invented the term, but the brits in 1863!!!! when several soccer clubs came to gether in london and formed the fotball association.

    as for american football being a sissy game, how about having a 300 pound mountain of muscle coming at you at high speed. not very sissy to me.

    you have to understand that i am very much a “soccer player’ and played at semi prolevels…..

  70. 74 jens
    February 8, 2010 at 21:45


    sure thye couple of millions would have saved NO……it took and will take billions. have you ever thought about the fact that watching the sainst on a sunday afternoon with your buddies in a bar might be the only escape for people in the lower 9th ward from the circumstances around them? could it be that a team can give a city an identity and something people come to root for and that this identity and community feeling will spill over into daily live. all these are things MONEY cannot buy…..

  71. 75 Clamdip
    February 8, 2010 at 23:06

    Wherever there’s money, rest assured the mafia will control it. Professional sports is all about the money.
    Little, if any goes to improve the communities where professional players grow up. I think the we’ve gone way past the reasons for professional sports. They remind me of Roman games at the Coliseum where unfortunate slaves are pitted against hungry lions.

  72. 76 Sanousi Sesay
    February 9, 2010 at 00:09

    What I don’t seem to understand about this sport“football”, is why is it called football when the game is played with the hand? I am from Sierra Leone, and what we call football is what the Americans call soccer. I have asked this question to many football fans, and none could give me a logical or convincing answer. Can anyone explain the reason behind the name.

  73. February 9, 2010 at 00:16

    Besides the obvious benefit of sports in keeping the young out of trouble, for me the paralled to “Rome and the lions” is ever present! Are we living out our animalistic thirst for blood through others? Healing? Well I suppose that too! 🙂 Rivalries cause violence to erupt as well!

  74. February 9, 2010 at 06:42


    Sports is both soothing and violent.

    It all depends on the mind set of those participating in it.

    I for one like to watch any sporting event and look at the expressions on both the winners and the losers, for in that is the true picture, the reactions or the responses.


  75. 79 Ronald Almeida
    February 9, 2010 at 09:46

    As things are today sport IS the disease.

  76. February 9, 2010 at 13:13

    any good education or teaching that is used well will bring a greater healing

  77. 81 benjamin
    February 9, 2010 at 17:42

    winning in sport is base on dertermination and past humilation.

  78. 82 Joseph D. Jackson
    February 9, 2010 at 19:27

    Can a sporting event really regenerate a city or country? Does it divide more than unite? Or is there really something special about sport that can elevate spirits and create unity?

    The answers to these questions depend entirely on the PEOPLE who are participating. If they are WILLING and ABLE to view sports AS only a pass-time and SOCIAL activity, then that IS what it IS.

    But if the participants are, by nature, irrationally agressive, violent, and unwilling to view sporting events ONLY as SOCIAL activities, then their ‘sporting?’ activities can easily degenerate into, at best, equivalants to the gladiator-circuses of ancient Rome, and at worst, the El Salvadore-Honduras war.

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