A Sporting Catharsis

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As Britain basks in post-Wimbledon glory, amid the Ashes, Sarah Dunant reflects on how sport has - throughout history - been used by the authorities to help populations let off steam.

In Florence, in the late 1500s, townspeople played a form of football that allowed them to wrestle, punch and immobilize their opponents in any way they liked. Venice had a spectacularly violent sport of bridge-fighting where opposing teams "armed with sticks...dipped in boiling oil beat the hell out of each other".

Civic sporting therapy - past and present - has for centuries, Sarah argues, "proved a creative alternative to our recurring tendency to kill each other".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

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10 minutes

Last on

Sun 14 Jul 2013 08:48

A Point of View: Sporting spectacle on the piazza

The Ashes are under way in England, but another historic sporting battle is fought out every year in Florence - an ancient no-holds-barred ball game played in one of the city's most famous piazzas, as writer Sarah Dunant explains.


Read Sarah Dunant's article on the BBC News website


Role Contributor
PresenterSarah Dunant
ProducerAdele Armstrong

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