Making Sense of Sports by Ellis Cashmore

By Ellis Cashmore

This advent to activity reports is totally revised, up-to-date, enlarged and better with new fabric on, between different themes, game psychology, star tradition, cybernation, masculinities and genetic technological know-how.

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The moment when competitive humans bring to an end their preparations and make visible their self-willed mastery of a particular set of skills is an engaging experience that easily surpasses reading reports, watching interviews, studying form, or any of the other ancillary activities associated with sports. The bodily performance itself occupies center stage in sports. And while the stage itself – its structure, scenery and props, and the audience – will occupy our attention in the pages to 29 BUILT FOR ACTION follow, we must provide some analysis of the performance before progressing.

Fibers in the wall of the esophagus tube (gullet) push the food downwards to the stomach (which explains why cosmonauts can still eat in the absence of gravity). From here, the food passes into the stomach, a sausage-shaped organ which can expand to about a two-pint capacity. At this stage, a churning process starts in which the food is mixed with mucus, hydrochloric acid, and enzymes (chemical substances that speed up processes – in this instance, the breaking up of protein). The effect of this is to liquefy the food, so that after between three and four hours the churned-up mass (called chyme), which now resembles a cream soup, gets transferred, via peristaltic waves, to the stomach’s exit point and then to the duodenum which is the first chamber of the small intestine.

The stomach has natural protection against this, although resistance can be lowered by alcohol or aspirin and by overproducing the juices when no food is available. 36 BUILT FOR ACTION Lymph From the Latin lympha, for water, this is a body fluid derived from the blood and tissue and returned to the circulatory system in lymphatic vessels. At intervals along the vessels there are lymph glands which manufacture antibodies and lymphocytes that destroy bacteria. The lymph system has no pump like the blood system and the movement of lymph is brought about largely by pressure from contracting skeletal muscles, backflow being prevented by valves.

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