The Sporting Spirit Analysis

The Sporting Spirit encapsulates instincts, pride, appearances, nationalism, symbolism, social identity, and human penchants as core issues that foment the gravity of the essay; “savage” instincts coagulate with nationalism and appearances to foster one’s pride, symbolizing the proudness of being labelled by one’s country – American, British, Russian, or otherwise. Pride fosters greed, which disinters the need for war – either literally or figuratively. Orwell conveys symbolic war in his essay, The Sporting Spirit, depicting sports as a means of a battle between spectators, between two nations.

It is a game where you either lose or win; there is no alternative. “Sport is frankly mimic warfare,” George Orwell says.

Orwell touches on many human issues as subjects, but focuses on differences of communities, spectators, and nations to elucidate his opinion, adding to his authenticity. In paragraph seven, Orwell differentiates between urban and rustic communities, and how they view sports. Sports provide escapism for people in urban societies – big towns – as a way to wander from their sedentary life.

The diction of “sedentary” crafts this aura of idleness, which contrasts the theme of “savage” spectators – spectators who are ardent to win through violent ways. Orwell even describes those who believe games bring nations together as a modern cult. This cynical usage of “cult” – a group or a system of religious belief – portrays the dark humour Orwell uses to subtly mock those views.

The essay’s tone is didactic, conclusive, and the reader is enticed by Orwell’s sequence as he progresses from the commonplace views, to specific authoritative views and events that explicate the truthfulness of his view; the reader is to adopt Orwell’s views – the opinionated writer.

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Orwell touches on human issues of stratification in the first two paragraphs. He divulges what many “thinking” people have kept clandestine for so long – that sport breeds ill-will. Sport aggression is a common phenomenon nowadays; Orwell classifies teams as “Dynamo,” “Russian,” or “British,” causing the reader to deliberate the labels spectators use in order to identify with their team. The diction of Orwell – “… I am told by someone,” and “… someone else informs me” – signify how his opinion is not confined to him alone, but rather that others share it as well. Social identification is one of the key human issues conveyed in the essay. Orwell says that sports create fresh animosity on both sides. The diction of “animosity” portrays the hate of spectators to one another as fervent dislike bred from the virtues and differences of one another.

This is one of the human issues Orwell is able to convey sublimely. The dictum that sports create good-will between the nations is a great misnomer because it is sport that symbolizes the competitive nature of humans and their need for classification. Humans seek pride, and they love power and domination. That is why sport is war – it is about the loss, as well as the gain. (What one gains, the other loses.) Spectators are able to surmise differences of races, countries, or political predilections as a group, and either boo the referee, or sing offensive songs that degrade the other team as well as their spectators to show their judgments. Orwell insinuates that competitiveness does not build character. At best, it betrays it. At worst, it corrupts it. It is not just the players who are corrupted; it is also the spectators. The imagery of a battlefield illustrate Orwell’s view of sport as a savage, violent activity where running, jumping, and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue. Good sportsmanship – honesty, humility, imperturbableness, respect, and appreciation – is non-existent to Orwell. Orwell’s insincere pathos delineates how sports are wrongfully understood by many.

Orwell also touches, in my opinion, on chauvinism rather than patriotism. In sports, if a team loses, it is for a reason. Ignoring the reasons for loss, and recklessly blaming the referee or the conditions is a form of ignorance that is only shown by a chauvinist – a person who believes that his country is the sole best county, obdurately. Orwell is able to craft the essay with one human issue as a core: sport glorifies differences, it demonises opponents, and erodes the moral character of its followers.

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The Sporting Spirit Analysis. (2019, Jan 10). Retrieved from

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