Olympics: Using Sport to Avoid War

  There just aren’t enough threatening tigers to chase anymore and our people are left without enough outlets for their aggressions. I frequently tell a metaphorical story about a high speed training moving at a breakneck speed that is running toward a predictable outcome. You cannot simply stand in front of it and put up your hand and yell, “STOP!” It will, quite predictably, run you over. But this is most frequently how we handle so many issues – we try, oftentimes desperately, passionately, to explain to people why they must stop something – could be drugs, sex, relationships, or even war. But all of these things have a biological drive attached to them and because of that, humans will not stop just because you tell them to.

Redirecting behavior has the highest chance of success because it fulfills the underlying biological need but with a socially acceptable outcome.

So I reiterate the title and ask, “How do we use sports to avoid war?” We may not like it, we may not agree with it, we may not want to believe it but the bottom line is this: we need strife in our lives and the opportunity to expend our aggressive energy as well as heighten our arousal through competition. We also get the added bonus of a group of people being part of a winning “team,” even if that team is really an entire country.

Thus, essentially, if we can identify another activity that has the elements of war, at the biological level, we may not be able to stop it fully but we have a real chance at reducing the frequency and severity of it. In other words, we have a shot at saving lives.

We need a team – can be small or large, we need competition, we need people to win sometimes and lose sometimes, we need all people bought in so that even those not playing have a needed support role, we need the experience to add to our country’s and our personal story, and we need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. “Idle hands do the Devil’s work.” We consider this point when we think of teenagers and keep them busy with work and afterschool activities to keep them out of trouble – and to keep them participating in the greater society. Why do we stop once we become adults?

It is not reasonable nor recommended to become a sedentary society that merely survives. We need to evolve into a society that thrives.

We need competition and outside of work and family goals. We need to take out our aggression on something other than politics, our children, our coworkers, and our spouses.The Olympics should be the pinnacle international competition but in sport and in spirit, we should have significantly more state-wide, nation-wide, and international competitions and they should be recognized at every level.

We as a whole nation need to learn the value of our people feeling fulfilled and having meaning in their lives outside of work and family. When we do so, we inspire people to be their best selves…and in doing so, optimize our nation’s power!


To be continued….



Photo by Simon Connellan, Olga Guryanova, Andre Hunter

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