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Football-as-war, coach-as-general: analogy, metaphor and management implications
journal contributionposted on 2002-04-01, 00:00 authored by P Kellett
Sporting terms have been used as metaphor and analogy to describe and prescribe life experiences. It has been suggested that the use of sport terminology can assist in the general understanding of complex terms and situations, however, the use of sport as metaphor and analogy for many aspects of social understanding can have negative consequences. The analogy of sport and war seems to be particularly prevalent within football, irrespective of the code or culture in which it is played. This article demonstrates the popular understanding of Australian Rules ‘football as war’ through two complementary studies. The first study investigates the representation of Australian Rules football as war, specifically through the analysis of both images and text on the front covers of the sport ‘lift-out’ sections of two prominent Melbourne newspapers, The Herald Sun and The Age. The second study examines whether people interpret non-war-like images of Australian Rules football in war-like terms. Forty-five undergraduate sport marketing and management students were asked to write about one of four different images of football players and coaches interacting, which revealed that football is understood as war. Further, when prompted by an image of football players and coaches interacting, people in this study interpreted the interactions as consistently war-like. Coaches were portrayed as militaristic generals and the athletes as soldiers. Implications for management, education and practice are discussed.