Portrait of Robert A. Nisbet

Nisbet on how violent, contact sports like football redirect people’s energies away from war (1988)

Found in: The Present Age

The American sociologist Robert Nisbet (1913-1996) laments the direction sports has evolved since the Second World War but sees one positive result, at least for contact sports like football (but not track and field), in that they reduce the pressure to go to war:

Sport and Liberty

It is good that sports are so important. They—and especially the contact or “violent” ones like football, hockey, and boxing—play a role of reliving pressures in human beings which once had no other outlets but wars, Bedlams, and public hangings. If by some major accident we ever lose the mayhem of the hockey rink, gridiron, and prize ring, if we are limited, say, to track and field, heaven help the ordinary American who wants only law and order and peace.