Pindar, who knew a thing or two about sport, remarked that
"Gold outshines all the majesty of wealth" and there were
"No games greater than the Olympian".
A later philosopher struggling against Wittgenstein
Suggested that when we play a game we make
"A voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles".
Like today, the Ancient Games were ruled by big money;
Pindar celebrates not the athletes, but those who paid.
And it is an obvious artifice when the runners run
A distance predetermined and settled by custom.
Why then does emotion catch us by the throat,
When a young girl rises from her victory
And salutes the shade of her dead mother?
Is it because we remember that once
The contest was for life or death
Determined by popular whim or even circumstance?
Or is it a feeling of dauntless endeavour
A glory in the strength and vitality
That provides inspiration to live through play?