Seeing the devout passion of sports fans I've often wondered if sports today are
It depends what you mean by "substitute." If by that you mean function symbolically than yes, I think sports can work as a substitute for war. Just consider some of the lingo in football. The long pass is the bomb and we talk of an offense as having a lot of weapons and of the qb as a general. I suppose that sports might also be considered as a way of sublimating aggressions and reinforcing communal bonds. For instance, when I lived in central Florida many people who seemed to share very little else in common, thought of themselves as "Gators" and could always relate to each other along those lines. And they got hyped up for certain games as though it were a kind of symbolic war. In thinking about the uses of sport, we should also consider that famous soccer game that took place between enemies during a cease fire. The men played together, embraced, shared food etc and the next day went back to bayoneting one another.