Chapter 2

The Athletic Imperative and the Reasons for Sport

Every person is born with athletic capability and every person is predestined, "hard wired," to develop that physical potential. This is an imperative that is a part of human nature. The first part of this chapter explores that foundational aspect of sports and then in the second part offers a taxonomy of influences, or reasons, involved in the formation of sports.


The athletic imperative

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) who was the foremost twentieth-century theorist concerning human motivation recognized the fact of predestined physicality. He was one of the three great psychologists of the twentieth century. Observations of his own child led him away from the other two great theorists of psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who examined repressed thoughts, and B. F. Skinner (1904-1990), who studied the influence of outside forces on behavior. Maslow noticed that his baby had an inner agenda and timetable that instructed the child to roll over, to walk, and to move independent of his parent's teaching. Maslow and other scholars realized that physical activity was inborn to human beings and was a major force in human evolution. In growing up children learn to walk, throw, run, climb, carry, lift and perform basic motor skills. Developing these skills and using them throughout life is common to all humankind. In short, humans are sentient beings impelled to move; it is the biologic destiny of the species. Thus, all humans begin life with the potential to be an athlete.

It would appear, in addition, that there exists for humans a certain joy in movement. The great runner Roger Bannister who grew up awkward and introspective in Bath, England recalled a moment of physical revelation while on a beach during his youth:

In this supreme moment I leapt in sheer joy. I was startled, and frightened by the tremendous excitement that so few steps could create.

-9-

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Sports in World History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Athletic Imperative and the Reasons for Sport 9
  • Chapter 3 - The Emergence of Modern Sports 31
  • Chapter 4 - The Globalization of Sport 63
  • Chapter 5 - The Significance of Global Sports 91
  • Index 119
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