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Sport and Capitalism

Action Replay: Playing On

The aim of boxing is to hit your opponent, though not to punch him senseless. Other sports also lead to head injuries, many of them serious. In November last year the Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was allowed to carry on playing despite being concussed in an accidental collision. This was sufficiently controversial for MP Chris Bryant to raise the matter in Parliament. ‘I know there are commercial interests in keeping players on the pitch,’ he said (outside the Commons), ‘but there is a long-term health interest in taking precautionary action’ (Daily Telegraph, 8 November). There are commercial interests in keeping players fit and healthy too, so the financial aspect cuts both ways.

Action Replay: After the Ball Game

Last month we wrote about the problems encountered by athletes, including Olympians, who are less successful than they expected. But even those who achieve their goals can still find themselves in a bit of a pickle once they retire, with no obvious job to go to. Not everyone can become a coach or a media pundit. As one former hockey player said, ‘It’s really scary for some athletes, devastating. We’ve all got rent and mortgages to pay’ (BBC Online, 17 February).

Sport and the Spirit of Capitalism

Today the scandal in professional cycling is doping: a hundred years ago it was racism.

Traditionally, things have tended to be difficult for the American athlete who happens also to be black. Jesse Owens, snubbed by his own President, had to travel to the 1936 Berlin Olympiad for the “warmest ovation of his life” – and a friendly wave from the Fuhrer himself – whilst a young Cassius Clay, disgusted by his homecoming reception some 24 years later, reportedly consigned his Rome Olympic Gold to the muddy depths of the Ohio. Practically unknown today, although in his time as famous as Owens or Clay, is cyclist Major Taylor. Why?

Voice From the Back

A Suicidal System

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