How would Europeans cope if their lives changed radically and nothing was as it used to be? Read on to discover what your life could be like in Eutopia: A Europe without sport!

People who do not care particularly for sport are in for a rough summer. Euro2012, the Olympics, Tour de France… The list is long. But what does sport mean to the sense of being European, and would our continent be the same without it? This time, Eutopia takes a look at what Europe would look like without sport.

Enjoy the silence

Image: ID (CC BY 2.0). With no sports, we could turn all the stadiums and football fiellds into beautiful parks…

Without sport, summer would be a rough time for journalists. With politicians on vacation and people enjoying their own summer breaks, there would be few stories to tell. Journalists would yearn for the time when they could write breaking news articles about footballers’ legs and strained ankles.

Another line of business that would have a tough time would be the bars. Bartenders all over Europe would sigh and think of the beautiful times when all they had to do to entertain their crowd was to turn on the TV in the corner of the bar.

People would be forced to talk about the weather during grill parties and get togethers, and the perhaps uncomfortable silence due to lack of locker room talk would urge friends to talk about what is actually happening in their lives.

Family life would be different too. Instead of gathering around the TV for dinner and looking at people fighting over a football, competing to run the fastest, or attempting throw an object as far as possible, families would eat while making eye contact with each other and perhaps also have time to go outside and enjoy the summer weather.

Hooligans would have to find another hobby than beating each other up before and after games – perhaps, in a Europe without sport, they would actually find out that their before so irreconcilable differences merely was something standing in the way of them becoming friends.

Instead of building a relationship on watching other people throw balls at each other, fathers and sons would throw balls at each other themselves.

So, all in all we would be able to enjoy our summer. But wouldn’t it be a bit… boring? And is sport only an entertainment industry, or is there more to it than that?

So… is sport all bad?

The beauty of sport is that it’s like war, but friendly. People get to act out their aggression in a friendly way and not (well, almost always not) beat each other up because of it. Let’s not forget the political factor of sports. Yes, it can be annoying to be forced to watch a game that you’re really not into. Yes, sometimes sport seems really silly. But sport also has the ability to make people who have been mortal enemies talk on a more civilised level. With the troubled past that we have on our continent, sport may be more important than we think in terms of social cohesion. I’m not saying that all European countries would be at war with each other if we had no Olympics where we could fight it out, but perhaps we forget sometimes that sport brings people together. Think of Das Wunder von Bern – a legendary match in 1954 between West Germany and Hungary, which the Germans won despite facing one of the best football teams in the history of the sport. The victory was an important injection of self esteem for the war-scarred Germans, and having a football team to look up to may have contributed to creating a positive atmosphere around the Federal Republic of Germany.

But there’s more to sports than politics: some sociologists think that sport has replaced the role religion used to have in the lives of many people. In a modern, secularised society where God doesn’t play a large role anymore, people miss the notion of worshipping. So they “invent” their own gods (how many times have you heard enthusiastic sports commentators label some player as “divine” or “a god of football”?) and make up new religious services: they put on their special outfits (the kit), practise special songs (the chants) and embrace the sense of belonging to a special congregation (the teams you’re rooting for). Can I get an amen?

Thumbnail photo: Wikimedia

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