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Danger of sporting mania

26 April 2013

April 25th, 1913.

OUR morning paper on Monday last presented us with a painful contrast in its accounts of the Cup Tie meeting at the Crystal Palace and Lord Roberts's missionary tour with an appeal to the manhood of England to do suit and service to its country. At the Crystal Palace there was a vast assembly of that manhood "Coom oop for t'coop", as the Lancashire contingent put it, but beyond the fact that they got the pleasure of a holiday outing, it is permissible to ask what earthly good they were doing either to themselves or to any one else. The contest at which they assisted as spectators was one in which professionalism has superseded the character of true sport. It was a mere exhibition of professional skill, secured by the competing teams at a great cost of money drawn from the pockets of men and boys who have no ear for the call of their country, and prefer to be gazers at a spectacle and gamblers on the odds. No wonder that Lord Roberts finds himself a vox clamantis in deserto. The craze for games, now degenerated still further into a morbid taste for looking on at professional displays, has grown to the proportions of a grave danger to our national safety. When the supreme interest of British youths is the victory of this or that football or cricket club, there is no room for reflection on civic and national duty. Has not the time arrived when we should cry halt to the sporting mania? We need not speak of its victims as "muddied oafs" and "flannelled fools" - such expressions are only possible under poetic licence. But there is a need for plain speaking on the duty of serving the State, and it seems to us that the parochial clergy would do well if they crossed the t's and dotted the i's of Lord Roberts's earnest teaching.

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