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TNQ | The Noontide Query for July 27, 2011: Sport & the Hunting Instinct

Dice for various games, especially for rolepla...

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I remember a discussion by Carl Sagan about the idea that some of our aggressive instincts, baggage left from our paleolithic heritage as small bands of hunter-gatherers on the plains of Africa, are apparent today in our predilection for war and competitive games such as athletic sports, role-playing games, miniature wargames, more cerebral pastimes like card games, and board games such as chess or mancala.

But we not only play games. We often like to vicariously whet our appetite for competition by watching others play games on television and the internet, often vigorously swearing at and debating which player or referee screwed up, and rooting loudly for ‘our team.’

Many of us sate our appetite for the hunt in a more direct fashion, by, well, hunting unsurprisingly.

As we developed over tens of thousands of years into our current global civilization, we never lost our capacity for aggression, which we needed then to survive, and to fall short of actual violence to each other, we’ve invented a bewildering number of games to channel that zest for the hunt, and intertribal war, to much more constructive ends than we might — aggression without the use of lethal force — though there was also a game popular in Mesoamerica in which the captain of the losing team was beheaded!

Oops! Now there’s a game in which you’ll really feel sorry for fumbling the ball. Talk about the penalty for failure!

I’m not much of an athlete, so I tend to be more of a boardgame and role-playing aficionado, and this ties into my more geekish tendencies as an SF, horror, and fantasy fiction fan.

So my questions are these:

What sort of games or sport do you like to play or watch during free hours? Why? If a professional in any sort of game or sport, from which do you get your kicks and/or paycheck by playing?

TNQ is a question that I pose to you, my readers, and is posted intermittently during the week at 12:00 PM EDT. Do feel free to comment, and don’t worry yerselves overmuch… I’m not an ogre and I don’t bite…much.


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