National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 11 No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Conflict: if we are to believe some of the great probers of the human mind like Freud and Shakespeare, it goes to the very core of our existence. Look at our history books. The great conflicts form the timeline of our American past: the Revolutionary War, the French and Indian War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the First World War (“the war to end all wars”), the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam (even if it was only a “police action”), Iraq, Afghanistan; and that’s skipping over some “minor conflicts” in Granada, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere. Where next? Iran, North Korea, the Middle East? We just don’t seem to be able to stop. And that’s us! The good guys!

Between wars, and sometimes during, we move our conflicts onto the playing fields (sublimation according to Freud) where we shrink our timeline to the seasons: football, basketball, baseball (insert your own favorite). On a slightly larger scale, we have the quadrennial, now biennial, Olympics where we get to witness “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Maybe that’s why we reach to sports as a metaphor for some of our great endeavors, physical, mental, and emotional.