The genesis & spread of modern forms of sport are reviewed to illustrate a theory of the civilizing process. Commonly thought to be the archetype & model of today's sports, the competitive games of antiquity differ in a number of ways from modern competitive sports. Customs governing combat sports, eg, boxing & Olympic wrestling, permitted a much greater degree of physical violence than that tolerated by the rules of the corresponding modern sports. Greek boxing & pancratium (a combination of boxing & wrestling) were considered good training for war; the qualities they called for & glorified were those of a warrior aristocracy. The brutality & violence of ancient games were not, as we idealistically believe, an isolated or aberrant element, but reflected the overall social structure of Greece, the level reached by the organization of the state & the monopoly it held on physical violence. The weakness & instability of the institutional control of violence in the ancient city-states illuminate other aspects of the civilization of that age, eg, the acceptance of massacre in war & the cult of force & physical beauty. 4 Figures. Modified HA

source: Sociological Abstracts Inc.