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Does sport have an aesthetic?

By Sebastian Smee   May 2004

There is something slightly ridiculous about discussing the beauty of sport. Aesthetics seem beside the point. Sport exists to satisfy certain longings – for simplicity, coherence, drama and personal agency (or heroics). It is a good outlet for physical urges which are suppressed in the sedentary course of modern life (boys, in particular, seem to have a need to send things out from themselves in straight trajectories at high speed). But basically, sport is rightly considered a distraction from real life.

Sure, we can find beauty in the various symmetries of sport – the orchestration of one team against another;…

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