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JRoberts

Individual vs. Team Sports

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I abhor random violence , yet my favourite sport is boxing , and free fighting; and the bloodier the better. I'm very mild mannered, and wouldn't deliberately hurt any being(except a fly)

I just admie the sheer guts of those participating.Would you say that I'm looking for an outlet for my basic animal in me? Any professional or amateur psychologist?

It could also have something to do with the struggle for values. This would explain your comment, "the bloodier the better". Akin to what RayK said, the more intensely you see the struggle between two people, the more important and glorious the victory is. This is why I have always preferred individual sports to team sports-seeing the intense struggle and desire to win play out between two individuals. This is why the original Olympics did not contain team sports or anything less than first prize. Objectivist have a similar view, in that they love to see man as a species compete for values, and we idealize these heroes who have competed fairly and properly, showing the strength of their character and serving as an inspiration to us.

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First to the question posed: It's difficult for me to say what's involved in your fascination with these sports, because there's not enough information to make a thorough evaluation. Also, I was a boxing fan during Muhammad Ali's era, though the sport holds nothing for me these days and I've never taken to related contests like Ultimate Fighting. I agree with the notion already stated that sports (of any kind) can be a relatively essentialized version of the quest for values, performing a function similar to art (representing the abstract at the perceptual level).

In the same vein as JRoberts's comment, "the bloodier the better" may compare a bit to my own view of the most recent Super Bowl. Unlike many who thought the Patriots had won "enough" or "too much" and needed to be knocked off because of it (tall poppy syndrome), I pulled for the Giants because, being the supposedly inferior team, a victory for them would be success against greater odds. I had nothing against the Patriots; if they had won I wouldn't have felt any disappointment. In fact I would have admired them for their undefeated season (though there would have been a slight sentimental twinge because at age 11 I was a huge Dolphins fan when they went undefeated).

On a different note:

Team sports are obviously a bit more tribal, individual sports a bit more individual.
This is why I have always preferred individual sports to team sports - seeing the intense struggle and desire to win play out between two individuals.

Would either of you say that you see team sports as at all collectivist in nature?

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Would either of you say that you see team sports as at all collectivist in nature?

Not necessarily. We do not call a victory of the United States over Nazi Germany, as opposed to soldier John Smith over soldier Heinrich Uldman, a "collectivist" victory. We also can celebrate a product of a company, for though it was designed by someone, it was also "tested" by others, "produced" by others, "executed" by others, etc. I think it totally depends upon the context.

However, it is my firm belief that the nature of sports is to pit ability against ability in order to magnify the winner. This is much more difficult a thing to do in "team sports", which is why I think people single out the wonderful quarterback or the amazing pitcher. Though a victory for the Dolphins is indeed a "collective" victory, in that it took the coordination and ability of more than one individual, I don't see this as spiritually satisfying as individual sports like singles tennis, running, boxing, ultimate fighting, etc. I think there's a reason that sports and "religion" went hand in hand in the Classical world, and similarly, I think there's a reason that the earliest and most prized games in the United States were individually based. It was only with the rise of post-modernism, altruism, and egalitarianism that sports like basketball, football, baseball, and soccer became important, while the individual sports declined in popularity. Your average Joe can cite 10 NFL football players before he can 5 boxers or track and field stars. Ultimately, this is why I like to classify "team sports" as games, fun amusements that can be semi-spiritually satisfying, but mostly providing entertainment (games are a form of entertainment), whereas sports I classify as spiritual battles of excellence.

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I would like to add:

I think sports offers an entirely different spiritual value than art. We praise Atlas Shrugged or Falling Waters because of the greatness of the artist, because of the ideas within the art work, because of how it recreates reality according to human values, etc.

Sports, on the other hand (and by sports, I mean individual sports), shows us strength of character. While it is true that we can see this in war, we don't want to recreate war! But in sports, we can see the strength, both internally and externally, of the individual. In boxing, we not only see how physically durable an individual is, but we see his resolve, his passion, his courage, his integrity, and his pride. A victory in this regards is a celebration, indeed an affirmation, that strength of character-that a mighty person, both inwardly and externally-will win. It is a resounding "yes" that life is good, that good is good, that good is right, and that right wins.

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I think there's a reason that sports and "religion" went hand in hand in the Classical world, and similarly, I think there's a reason that the earliest and most prized games in the United States were individually based. It was only with the rise of post-modernism, altruism, and egalitarianism that sports like basketball, football, baseball, and soccer became important, while the individual sports declined in popularity.

I'm not sure that is true nor do I see a causal connection.

Individual sports like tennis and golf have risen to ascendency only recently and that, I suspect, is due to the fact that they became professional sports in the 20th century. Baseball, football, and basketball always had local interest, especially as sports to participate in, in the 18th century but they became important spectator sports with the advent of radio in the 1920's. Then, for the first time, people could follow and "root, root, root for the home team" even when they were on the road. Also, the great individual players from other teams, like Babe Ruth, became national superstars.

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I think there's a reason that sports and "religion" went hand in hand in the Classical world, and similarly, I think there's a reason that the earliest and most prized games in the United States were individually based. It was only with the rise of post-modernism, altruism, and egalitarianism that sports like basketball, football, baseball, and soccer became important, while the individual sports declined in popularity.

I completely disagree with this view. Betsy's point about the professionalization of sports (which could arguably be tied to the rise of Capitalism) is very true. Also, although I'm not an historian, my understanding is that altruism has been the dominant morality for the entirety of human existence. Thus, the claim that the "rise" of altruism led to the popularity of team sports doesn't hold. Furthermore, the idea that team sports have anything to do with egalitarianism or, especially, post-modernism is, frankly, absurd to me. If this were the case, there would be no such thing as team sports or, if there were, they would be the most boring, worthless forms of human endeavor imaginable.

Regarding the relative merits of individual vs. team sports, I think it is extremely difficult to compare the two. They are organized and executed very differently. I also think it is incorrect to claim that only individual athletic endeavors are "sports," whereas team athletics are not. In fact, one could argue that the cognitive aspect of coordinating the athletic ability and specific actions of individual athletes toward a common goal is far greater than that of individual sports. Plus, if you have ever known the joy of throwing a long bomb to a buddy, having it hit him directly in the chest, and then watch him outrun opponents for a touchdown, you understand the power of human interaction in an athletic context. Part of what makes team sports great is the ability to be "in synch" with one's teammates.

I grant anyone his preferences in sports (or other fields of interest for that matter), but one must be very careful in judging which sports are superior or defining which forms of athletic endeavors qualify as sports.

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I'm not sure that is true nor do I see a causal connection.

Individual sports like tennis and golf have risen to ascendency only recently and that, I suspect, is due to the fact that they became professional sports in the 20th century. Baseball, football, and basketball always had local interest, especially as sports to participate in, in the 18th century but they became important spectator sports with the advent of radio in the 1920's. Then, for the first time, people could follow and "root, root, root for the home team" even when they were on the road. Also, the great individual players from other teams, like Babe Ruth, became national superstars.

I will concede to this. I was just thinking back to how popular and national a sport boxing used to be, whereas now-a-days we seem to only care about "the big three".

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I completely disagree with this view. Betsy's point about the professionalization of sports (which could arguably be tied to the rise of Capitalism) is very true. Also, although I'm not an historian, my understanding is that altruism has been the dominant morality for the entirety of human existence. Thus, the claim that the "rise" of altruism led to the popularity of team sports doesn't hold. Furthermore, the idea that team sports have anything to do with egalitarianism or, especially, post-modernism is, frankly, absurd to me. If this were the case, there would be no such thing as team sports or, if there were, they would be the most boring, worthless forms of human endeavor imaginable.

Both Ancient Greece and Rome held as their dominant philosophy egoism. It was not fully spelled out and logically defended like Ayn Rand, but it was implicit. These cultures were not only "I" centered, but human centered, and sought their celebration of mankind here on earth. It is a unique hallmark of these civilizations that things such as the Olympics pitted individual against individual in a quest for glory.

Andrew Bernstein actually discusses this in his book Heart of a Pagan.

Regarding the relative merits of individual vs. team sports, I think it is extremely difficult to compare the two. They are organized and executed very differently. I also think it is incorrect to claim that only individual athletic endeavors are "sports," whereas team athletics are not. In fact, one could argue that the cognitive aspect of coordinating the athletic ability and specific actions of individual athletes toward a common goal is far greater than that of individual sports. Plus, if you have ever known the joy of throwing a long bomb to a buddy, having it hit him directly in the chest, and then watch him outrun opponents for a touchdown, you understand the power of human interaction in an athletic context. Part of what makes team sports great is the ability to be "in synch" with one's teammates.

I grant anyone his preferences in sports (or other fields of interest for that matter), but one must be very careful in judging which sports are superior or defining which forms of athletic endeavors qualify as sports.

I did not say that individual sports were superior. Rather, I defined what a sport was in my view, and why team sports should be classified as a game as opposed to a sport. Observe the excitement and glee of children playing "capture the flag", a game centered around teamwork. It is possible to experience powerful emotions in a game. I merely differentiated the spiritual aspects of sports versus games.

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Both Ancient Greece and Rome held as their dominant philosophy egoism. It was not fully spelled out and logically defended like Ayn Rand, but it was implicit. These cultures were not only "I" centered, but human centered, and sought their celebration of mankind here on earth. It is a unique hallmark of these civilizations that things such as the Olympics pitted individual against individual in a quest for glory.

I understand there were particular places in which altruism wasn't dominant, but I'd guess these were islands in a sea of altruism. In any event, the basic point of my comment was to refute the notion that team sports have anything to do with altruism, egalitarianism, or post-modernism. You concede there is not a causal connection in your response to Betsy, so that's that.

I did not say that individual sports were superior. Rather, I defined what a sport was in my view, and why team sports should be classified as a game as opposed to a sport. Observe the excitement and glee of children playing "capture the flag", a game centered around teamwork. It is possible to experience powerful emotions in a game. I merely differentiated the spiritual aspects of sports versus games.

You wrote in post #7:

Ultimately, this is why I like to classify "team sports" as games, fun amusements that can be semi-spiritually satisfying, but mostly providing entertainment (games are a form of entertainment), whereas sports I classify as spiritual battles of excellence.

It's difficult for me to understand how, based on your assessments, you do not see individual sports as superior. A game or fun amusement (i.e., team sport) is equal to a "spiritual battle of excellence" (i.e., individual sport)?

I understand that this is your preference and classification, but you may want to talk with or listen to serious (as in college-level or, especially, professional) athletes who play team sports and figure out what their views are. I guarantee that a professional football player will not view his sport as a "game" equivalent to capture the flag. Also, having played and watched a lot of sports myself (team and individual), I know firsthand the demands sports take, both mentally and physically. And I know that those who play team sports, especially professionally, do see it as a spiritual battle of excellence.

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I understand there were particular places in which altruism wasn't dominant, but I'd guess these were islands in a sea of altruism. In any event, the basic point of my comment was to refute the notion that team sports have anything to do with altruism, egalitarianism, or post-modernism. You concede there is not a causal connection in your response to Betsy, so that's that.

I will agree that I have not thought too deeply about the "link", if any, between team sports and altruism. I have thought a lot about individual sports and more healthy cultures, and this is where I came from. But I will concede the point as given by you and Betsy.

It's difficult for me to understand how, based on your assessments, you do not see individual sports as superior. A game or fun amusement (i.e., team sport) is equal to a "spiritual battle of excellence" (i.e., individual sport)?

I understand that this is your preference and classification, but you may want to talk with or listen to serious (as in college-level or, especially, professional) athletes who play team sports and figure out what their views are. I guarantee that a professional football player will not view his sport as a "game" equivalent to capture the flag. Also, having played and watched a lot of sports myself (team and individual), I know firsthand the demands sports take, both mentally and physically. And I know that those who play team sports, especially professionally, do see it as a spiritual battle of excellence.

As personally superior, yes. As more spiritually satisfied, yes. Have I thought this through to its depths? No. But is this not induction-to take what we see around us, and to try and find the meanings and the principles behind it? I am of course very welcome to hear other evidence to the contrary. So, how are teams sports spiritually satisfying to you?

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As personally superior, yes. As more spiritually satisfied, yes. Have I thought this through to its depths? No.

Just to reiterate something, JRoberts, I have no problem with someone having a personal preference for a given sport or type of sports, i.e., individual vs. team. The great thing about sports is how reality-oriented and personally rewarding they are! So, I'm glad you enjoy what you do.

So, how are teams sports spiritually satisfying to you?

Briefly, team sports still require individual excellence at a given position, but also the coordination of actions across the team. They allow one to excel in his position, but also gain the immediate participatory and observational reward of watching one's teammates excel. I gave the example in an earlier post of throwing a touchdown pass. That required a lot of people doing specific things, and then once the ball is in the air, the quarterback (and others) can observe the receiver's ability to catch it, break tackles or run free, and ultimately score. Each person, through individual excellence, can inspire excellence in others. It is seeing the values and virtues of multiple individuals play out simultaneously and in synch.

(If you'd like to continue this discussion, we should probably do it on a separate thread, as we're veering off-topic here. And I really am open to the possibility that individual sports are in some way better, objectively, than team sports. However, my premise at present is that it is in many ways an apples to oranges comparison and each must be judged in its own context. Also, the spirituality issue needs to be understood in separate contexts, too.)

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Briefly, team sports still require individual excellence at a given position, but also the coordination of actions across the team. They allow one to excel in his position, but also gain the immediate participatory and observational reward of watching one's teammates excel. I gave the example in an earlier post of throwing a touchdown pass. That required a lot of people doing specific things, and then once the ball is in the air, the quarterback (and others) can observe the receiver's ability to catch it, break tackles or run free, and ultimately score. Each person, through individual excellence, can inspire excellence in others. It is seeing the values and virtues of multiple individuals play out simultaneously and in synch.

(If you'd like to continue this discussion, we should probably do it on a separate thread, as we're veering off-topic here. And I really am open to the possibility that individual sports are in some way better, objectively, than team sports. However, my premise at present is that it is in many ways an apples to oranges comparison and each must be judged in its own context. Also, the spirituality issue needs to be understood in separate contexts, too.)

I would be much obliged if a moderator split this off into a new subject :rolleyes:. I find it highly interesting, and when they do, I will respond there. In the mean time, thank you for providing your evaluation.

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I would be much obliged if a moderator split this off into a new subject :rolleyes:. I find it highly interesting, and when they do, I will respond there. In the mean time, thank you for providing your evaluation.

I too would be interested in hearing more in this vein. I know I have a ton of thoughts on the subject, but nothing that is clearly in response to the topic starter, which seemed to be asking questions pertaining more to motivation towards particular values.

I expect that this tangent discussion would eventually come around to that point, but as it isn't there yet, I hesitate to contribute to that kind of redirection myself...

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I'm glad this was broken into a separate thread, and my thanks for it.

I took there to be two basic issues under discussion: 1) does the concept "sport" appropriately apply to both individual and team athletic activities, or just the former, and 2) are greater spiritual values achieved through individual sports vs. team sports (assuming both can be called "sports").

I think the best way to start is with the first issue and by defining our terms. So, what is a "sport"?

Dictionary.com gives a number of definitions from different sources. I'm focused on the noun form as it applies to physical activity. Here are some:

1. An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc. (Dictionary.com Unabridged)

2. Diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime. (Dictionary.com Unabridged)

3. Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. (American Heritage Dictionary)

4. An active pastime; recreation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

There are other similar definitions, including some etymological information, but these definitions seem to capture the core of it. Also, "game" is a common synonym.

I see four core elements to something being a sport: 1) skilled, physical activity, 2) governed by rules, 3) to compete, and 4) achieve recreational pleasure. The sports listed in the first definition are all individual athletic activities, with the exception of baseball. However, if the core elements of the definition are correct and inclusive, then I see no reason why team athletic activities would not be called sports--all the elements are there.

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