If medieval Christians could be raised

From the dead and then confronted

By the amount of sporting activity which

The contemporary world takes for granted,

They would probably be horrified

And quickly elect to return to their graves again!

For such Christians would surely think

They had been returned, in time, to

An age of pagan physicality,

When bodily strength counted for everything

And the spirit, by contrast, for next-to-nothing!

For what is this recrudescence

Of physical competition to which

The modern world is especially partial

If not a kind of neo-pagan materialism,

Symptomatic of an intensive decadence

Peculiar to the age of the State?

Anyone who knew anything about the atom

Could be left in no doubt

That neutron and electron particles

Had conclusively triumphed over neutron wavicles

In the establishment of an anti-natural athleticism,

The antithetical equivalent to proton subnaturalism.

Yes, artificial physicality has triumphed,

Whether on the racing track or on the football field,

The golf course or the cricket pitch,

The bowling green or the tennis court,

The gym floor or the ice-skating rink,

In the swimming pool or in the boxing ring.

While some sport is still predominantly subnatural,

And thus literally neo-pagan, most of it

Is artificial, and thus strictly contemporary.

But it is all somehow symptomatic of state decadence,

And sometimes it is no less fatalistic

Than in the gladiatorial age of the barbaric ancients.

Mostly, however, it is relatively harmless

From the physical point-of-view, since

Electron equivalents are more disposed

To attraction than to reaction, and they

Tend to preponderate over anachronisms.

But, still, it all leaves something

To be desired from a spiritual point-of-view,

And you can take it from me

That if the state-oriented present is ever overcome,

And a new civilization duly developed,

There will be far less sporting activity around

In the future, such little as remains

Being largely, if not exclusively, sedentary and artificial,

Requiring no more than one player,

And he mainly a spectator.