Remembering the role of top level sport

Love is all, love is new
Love is all, love is you
– Because, The Beatles

Later today, like many hundred others, I’ll shuffle aboard a British Airways flight from London Heathrow. A month of exposure to many different normals of many different people behind me.
It’s all got me thinking. The world presently sees fighting in Ukraine, more fighting in the Middle East. In the past few weeks I’ve toured naval battleships of yore, seen effects of London blitzkrieg bombings, heard fighting tales of the Louis XIII, XIV, XV and XVI at Versailles, heard of the Nazi flag flying from the Eiffel Tower. Our shared capacity for hatred and killing remarkable.
Indeed, it seems fair that each day negotiated by each of us in a peaceful way should be celebrated.

Through this lens, I’ve been wondering about the role of top level sport in life. I understand the role of local or community sport, such as the Stansted Park cricket club, as social glue. That’s easy. And important.

And the past month has been a grand time for such consideration; the football World Cup, the men’s and women’s hockey World Cup, Le Tour de France, the Commonwealth Games, international Test cricket… Leaving Paris on Thursday, Ian here walked behind members of Canada’s female rugby team, in town for their own World Cup.

I know that many people see sport as a distraction. Something to occupy idle minds. Minds that should/ could/ would be better employed engaged in other pursuits (peace-keeping, volunteering, a paid career).
At a larger population level, perhaps sport is used as the Romans used the Circus Maximus, to placate the populous. To occupy minds that would otherwise turn to war, mutiny, dissatisfaction? But who’s to say that these minds wouldn’t otherwise turn to love, music, poetry?

In modern times it seems that we are frighteningly able to find distraction within the very sphere of comfort that sport once provided. Drugs scandals, match-fixing, administration blunders, etc. All such distractions take away from pure enjoyment.


That’s probably the essence of why.
The buzz of witnessing creativity. That feeling. Love of it. Enjoyment. Appropriately, as I write John Lennon’s “Because” plays on BBC radio, introduced by a throaty DJ who tells us that in developing the piece, John Lennon asked Yoko Ono to play a Beethoven piece but “with the notes upside down and inside out;” an idea she apparently understood. Creativity.

Messi, Federer, Eleanor Patterson of Leongatha; having a go.

This afternoon there’s a chance I may squeak into Fratton Park here to watch Portsmouth host Charlton in a pre-season friendly (time permitting). I like that. The kick-to-kick of the football season. Encourage the creativity.

The plane tonight will fly high over our world. Over the fighting. Over the scheming. Over the sport. Over the creating. Over the love.
What role top level sport?
To enjoy.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. that’s the best thing about sport,it brings all races together like the commonwealth games,just keep out the bloody politics and treat everyone as equals,sport is great for team spirit and team building and mixing with other cultures,it should not matter what colour or religion you are once you put on your team uniform you are all one

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    OBP in the end it is exactly that enjoyment and friendships made even with the extra exposure and pressure of the top level and the fame and financial rewards that brings in the end it is exactly the same as all of us from the ad uni fc scum to the international level it is catch up , talk crap and reminisce
    Re the connection between sport , religion and war these will be used and abused forever in relation communication wise and connection we are 2 seconds apart in some ways and yet light years apart in others and unfortunately this will never improve thanks , OBP

  3. last sentence Malcolm,very negative,it is improving,look at what the AFL is doing involving all cultures,and they are trying to bridge the gap !!!!!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Andrew I was referring world wide in relation to the article

  5. Thanks David. I’ve enjoyed your observations from Europe. I reckon travel is about connecting history, culture, geography to what we already know. You’ve confirmed this for me.

    But it is also about playing some languid cricket, and then having a few ales in an ancient pub.

    Is sport a harmless microcosm of our broader world?

    Well done, sir.

  6. E.regnans says

    Got there.
    Portsmouth 1 – 2 Charlton Athletic

    Fast game.
    Trumpeter and drummer rousing the home fans.
    Singing, chanting, enjoyment.

  7. Matthew McCabe says

    Safe travels big fella. Missed you France side…should have kept a closer eye on your posts, but was in deliberate web-exile for a few weeks.

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