BLOOD AND GUTS: Violence in Sports by Don Atyeo

BLOOD AND GUTS: Violence in Sports

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A strongly felt, deeply disturbing study that examines not only the mayhem committed in the name of sport but also the appeal of violence to the average fan--a word which by no coincidence is short for fanatic. Atyeo, an Australian freelancer, ranges over blood and pit sports (hunting, bullfighting, and cockfighting); combat sports (boxing and wrestling); contact sports (American football, hockey, and English rugby); and risk sports (motor racing). But besides these obvious choices, he covers such ""brawl games"" as soccer, baseball, and even cricket--whose current breaches of protocol make it just another ugly manifestation of a Clockwork Orange era. The pressure to win at any cost, Atyeo notes, is more intense at higher (college and professional) levels of competition, and he quotes George Orwell: ""Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play."" Beyond implying vestigial relationships between modern sport and such bygone diversions as hunting for food, gladiatorial contests, and public hangings, Atyeo offers few conclusions as to why people take to savage entertainments like football matches, prize fights, rodeos--and pig stickings, ""a curiously English sport begun by planters who speared sloth boar on the grasslands [of India] around 1800."" But he does reject the Lorenz theory of sport as a safety valve on the reasonable grounds that aggression of any kind is unselective and anti-social. Further, Atyeo cites the intense interest of entrepreneurs in franchising Rollerball, a ""gory motorized ball game of the future"" described by science-fiction author William Harrison. This is just one of the many vignettes that he uses to demonstrate--from inside the arena--that the violence inherent in sport engenders ""passion bordering on dementia.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1979
Publisher: Paddington--dist. by Grosset