The Spectator

The Spectator at war: Maintaining the machinery of sport

The Spectator, 22 August 1914:

WHEN so great a business as war comes upon England, the sports and games of the country fall into their proper places. Cricket has been packed into an obscure corner of the daily newspaper. Golf clubs have expended their activities largely in trenching vacant ground, and in forwarding subscription lists to the Prince of Wales’s Fund. The Scottish Football Union, sending its contribution to the Fund, exhorts its members to prove what they may owe to the discipline and self-control given by the game. But these games—just because they are merely games—are less seriously affected than other country activities. The sports of hunting and shooting are hit by war in a different way, and in turn react upon other activities in other directions to an extent and with ramifications almost impossible to calculate. It does not take many days of war to show that what is sport regarded from one standpoint is the most serious business of life looked at from another.

Hunting during the coming season cannot go on as usual. Every hunt has lost large numbers of horses, and those which have been taken have been naturally and rightly those which were in the best condition. Many riders to bounds are with the forces at the front. Many establishments may not be able to afford, or at any rate ought not to afford, what they spent in other years. The money saved by not hunting should of course go, not to some other form of luxury, but to patriotic purposes, to the Red Cross and to the relief of distress. But though we say this, we do not want to see hunting killed, but only suspended. Let there be just enough done to keep it alive for better times, but no more.

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