Asymmetry

War has often been used as a metaphor for sport and vice-versa. The comparisons are fair, given that the similarities between the two run deep: a competition between two parties, using strategy, arsenals of weapons, and featuring many small battles within the larger contest. Motivational speeches from brilliant tacticians are invoked to inspire the competitors to victory. Lombardi himself could be the Sun Tzu of our era.

You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn't mean a thing. That's for the fans. You've got to win the war with the man in front of you. You've got to get your man.

– Vince Lombardi

In fact, the relationship between the two is even closer. For centuries, sport has been used by societies as a means of developing skills or bodies that would be useful in the warfare of the day — think javelin, lacrosse, fencing, kendo, and football, to name but a few.

If the future of warfare is in fact information-oriented (ie. Netwar) or asymmetric in orientation, is sport then obsolete as a model for developing combat-ready soldiers from the citizenry, perhaps to be replaced by computerized training of some sort? Perhaps so. At the very least, it appears that certain forms of modern sport have outlived their usefulness in this regard, and that symmetric forms of team sport may one day be as quaint to future generations as the notion of tug-of-war being an Olympic event seems to us today. Indeed, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), viewed by some as a postmodern form of sporting entertainment, may in fact be more true to the form we should come to expect from our sporting institutions in the future.

With its ambivalence towards the Truth of victory, its disregard for the boundaries of the playing space, its overt hyper-muscularization taunting modern doping policy, and its hyper-mammarization titillating participants and spectators alike, the WWE is true to its label of adding "entertainment" to the sport product. But it is the nature of its asymmetric competition that is of true interest: 2-on-1, 3-on-1, royal rumbles and allies rushing out of the dressing room give wrestling a cachet that modern sports cannot match — and perhaps offer North American society a more appropriate model for a future of asymmetric warfare.

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