THE WORLD sports conference takes its name from a poem called ‘Vitai Lampada’, or ‘The torch of life’. The poem was written in the 19th century by an Englishman called Sir Henry Newbolt. Vitai Lampada is about a future soldier who learns stoicism in cricket matches in the famous close at Clifton College, writes Victoria Howe.
Stoicism is where someone is indifferent to pleasure or pain, a philosophy founded in the 3rd century by a Greek philosopher called Zeno the Citium.
The actual line from the poem is:”Play up! play up! and play the game!”. This is what the captain said to his team as they were about to play a game of cricket. However, this poem has a darker meaning, one of war, bloodshed and death.
In fact, the captain and his cricket team are referring to soldiers and their sergeant during a battle. In the second stanza of the poem, this becomes apparent when Newbolt uses words such as “colonel” and “regiment” that cricket is no longer the subject in question.
With the poems underlying themes of war, bloodshed and death, it’s no wonder that Play the Game creator Jens Andersen chose this title; it conveys the corruption of sport perfectly.