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Last Updated on February 25, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 386

Sports and Society

Miller explains the context in which sports gained importance in ancient Greece. He illustrates how the types of games and the rules of the athletic world largely echoed the overall organization of Greek society. He further argues that the games contributed to strengthening the underlying values of Greek culture and thereby increased people's self-perception as Greeks.

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The embrace of democracy in Athens was connected to the idea of personal responsibility as well as opportunity. Miller argues that the sports that were most widely played clearly exhibited an emphasis on equality of opportunity: anyone could enter, and anyone could win. In particular, Miller shows that the sports that thrived were the ones that emphasized competition between individuals, such as wrestling, as opposed to team sports, which depend on cooperation.

The Human Body

Along with the growing importance of democratic institutions, the competitive spirit of athletics was closely tied to the idea that individual humans were as important as the elites. Attention to the perfection of the human body—which was correlated to moral virtue in Greek society—was at the core of qualification to compete. Training and the related discipline it required were almost equally valued to competition itself. The display of the body in nude contests was reiterated through the artistic representation of such forms. These were two equal aspects of the elevation of a singular ideal of corporeal form. The much-admired discus thrower, for example, was a favorite subject of sculptors...

(The entire section contains 386 words.)

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