Whether it is our love of chance and vicarious thrill, our need to release anxiety and aggression, or our appreciation of the arc traced by a ball at a crucial moment – sports draw us in.
The Allure of Sports in Western Culture contributes to contemporary debates about the attraction of sports in the West by providing a historical grounding, as well as theoretical perspectives and contextualization. Bringing together the work of literary theorists, historians, and athletes, the volume’s dual emphasis allows us to better understand the historical and ideological reasons for the changing nature of sports’ allure from Ancient Greece and Rome to the modern Olympics. The findings show that allure is shaped by larger forces such as poverty, wealth, and status; changing moral standards; and political and cultural indoctrination. On the other hand, personal and psychological factors play an equally important, if less tangible role: our love for scandal, the seduction of deception and violence, and the physiological intoxication of watching and participating in sports keep us hooked. At the heart of the volume lies the tension between our love for sport and our knowledge of its only barely hidden cruelty, exploitation, and manipulation.