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A German view of English sporting spirit

Daniel Hannan wrote a piece on the British defeat in archery at the Olympics, and a German commentator responded. He may not have a sense of humour - the whimsical aspects of Hannan's blog escaped him - but he has a forceful feeling about sportsmanship. We also question his insistence on speaking of English, rather than British, sportsmanship. Despite all these caveats, you might find his remarks interesting -

From my German point of view, Daniel Hannan wrote an article which is both: tpyically English, but also quite un-English.??I consider his article to be quite un-English because in Germany we've always been taught that sports have played an important role in shaping the typical Englishman's noble spirit. According to this German idea of Englishness the English have invented competitive sports to learn from each other fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing. According to this (German?) idea of true English sportsmanship a loss in a sportive competition must never lead to a devalutation of self-worth, but to personal growth. When we take into consideration that losing is a potential outcome in each competition, and that many sportsmen experience losing more often than winning, it's quite easy to understand why the English concept of sportsmanship has played such an important role in shaping the mentality which is considered to be typically English (and which has always been admired by non-English people around the world, including me). From this foreign perspective it seems to be quite un-English when someone speaks about "the national humiliation of being beaten at archery by the French", because such a phrase does not exactly demonstrate an Englishman's grace of losing in sports.

I'm afraid we found the rest of his ideas to be, as the Yanks put it, in left field.

But fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace are ideals to live by.

Comments (1)


It's not that we were beaten at archery, it's that we were beaten at archery by the French. I think DH was thinking of Agincourt.

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