Mimetic desire and scapegoat mechanism in sport
BACKGROUND: The most fundamental question about sport is what is sport, what is its origin and its essence? Because sport is connected with the human being (there is no sport without human beings) different anthropological visions of human being result in different understandings of sport. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to present and explain an anthropological vision of the human being and society as was developed by René Girard. In his view mimetic desire and the scapegoat
... have a central role in any culture, religion or other secular institutions. The explanatory power of his theory is presented when it is applied to the world of sport. METHODS: Our methodology is philosophical, involving conceptual analysis and the application of the outcomes to sport. RESULTS: In the paper we show that mimetic desire can be recognized as one of the important origins of recreational and competitive sports. When people recognize what other people are able to do or accomplish in sport this invokes the mimetic desire as a result of which motivation for sport and competiveness can arise. But mimetic rivalry leads to an unstable situation. Therefore a second element is needed: Scapegoating in sport is presented as a mean to preserve the good reputation of sport, to keep peace in sport as well as in society as a whole. Finally, the attempt to overcome mimetic desire and scapegoating in sport is presented and the question if this is worth trying at all is opened. CONCLUSIONS: The theories of mimetic desire and scapegoat mechanism have great explanatory power when they are applied to the field of sport. They could reveal us some hidden motives and forces which drive athletes and sport as a whole. Moreover, they exceed the world of sport and reveal the influence of sport on the whole of society.