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2009 | 47 | 1 | 79-88

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Prolegomena for Considerations on Western Sport and Spiritualism



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Sport activity of achievement-oriented (professional, Olympic, spectacular character) is first of all exposition of rivalry and striving for variously understood sports success (resulting from measurable or discretionary criteria). It refers to winning a competition or taking another expected place as well as to other forms of satisfaction, such as financial gratification or social (political, ethnic, professional) recognition. Spirituality is here neither an aim, nor an expected value - it constitutes rather an additional or redundant quality. A competitor focuses his/her attention first of all on the main aim assumed in planned or current rivalry. Emotional sensations which are experienced by athletes before, during or after competitions testify to mental and emotional stress which accompanies sports combat.It is also difficult to associate spirituality or spiritualism with sport for all - like, for example, that of health-oriented character - sport of the disabled, physical education, sport of playful character or physical recreation. That difficulty results from the fact that neither spiritualism, nor spirituality inspires for physical activity in the abovementioned fields; neither spiritualism, nor spirituality is the outcome of activity in the realm of sport for all.Exceptions are constituted by ancient Olympic Games as well as by some experiences connected with recreational forms of tourism mediated through achievement-oriented sport (also by pre-Columbian Native American societies and Maoris aboriginal population of New Zealand).For example Hellenic Olympic Games were a highly spiritualized form of sports rivalry - including also rivalry in the field of art, and especially in the field of theatre. They were one of numerous forms of religious cult - of worshipping chosen gods from the Olympic pantheon. On the other hand, during mountain hiking and mountain climbing there can appear manifestations of deepened spirituality characteristic for the object of spiritualization of non-religious, quasi-religious or strictly religious qualities.I would like to explain - at the end of this short abstract - that spiritualism (which should not be confused with spiritism) is - generally speaking - first of all a philosophical term assuming, in ontological and axiological sense, that spiritual reality, self-knowledge, consciousness or mental experiences are components of the human being - components of a higher order having priority over matter. They constitute, in the anthropological context, beings of a higher order than the body.Spiritualism according to its popular interpretation means spirituality. Qualities which are ascribed to that notion in particular societies can be determined on the basis of empirically oriented sociological research. They make it possible to determine various ways of interpreting and understanding that notion as well as views or attitudes connected with it.









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1 - 12 - 2009
13 - 1 - 2010


  • Josef Pilsudski University of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland


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