“Professional Sport”: Also a form of “play” defined by Huizinga?

So when I first read bthor22’s “The Transformation of ‘Play’”, I was planning to write a short comment about my different point of view about professional sports, but I ended up wrote a whole bunch of paragraphs so I finally decided to expand it and write it as an separate blog post.

In bthor22’s “The Transformation of ‘Play’”, the central thesis is basically that the modern professional sports is no longer defined by Huizinga’s definition of ‘Play’ because the primary motivation for the modern athletes is monetary needs. However, I was not fully convinced and I believe that this is an arguable idea.

Before going on to talk about the professional athletes, I firstly want to discuss how the casual form of sports, that people play after school or work, is defined by Huizinga’s definition of ‘Play’. In Huizinga’s “Homo Ludens”, he presented several basic features or traits of ‘Play’. If we put a type of sports, ex. soccer, into Huizinga’s context, we would apparently find that soccer (or any other casual sports) is defined as a form ‘Play’ by Huizinga: playing soccer is voluntary; it is ‘pretend’ (outside real-life); it is not about normal wants and needs; it is limited in time and space; it has a fixed ‘cultural form’ (repeated in some style once formed); it is rule-governed…and so on. Therefore, ‘soccer’ (or other sports), played by amateurs, is definitely defined as a ‘Play’ by Huizinga’s definition.

Continue reading