The general consensus is that the oldest form of what we might broadly consider to be 'sport' is wrestling.
It's a logical and obvious enough assumption to make and is more or less confirmed with wrestlers being depicted in so many ancient cave paintings found about the globe.
What the paintings don't show are the bookies, the fans, the people collecting shells on the door and the vendors outside selling mammoth steak sandwiches.
You can be pretty sure they were there though. There is, after all, nothing new...
The point here is that sport and combat have always been inextricably linked from their very inceptions.
George Orwell said serious sport is "war minus the shooting" - and that's pretty much on the money.
Going back as far as you like sport has been used to form and maintain soldiers; as a means to identify and sharpen skill; to provide an active alternative in times of peace and even, occasionally, to be a needed distraction while on the battlefield.
Two things bring this to mind for me at the moment.
The first, of course, is Anzac Day approaching.
The other has been the arrival this week, from Canberra, of a package containing my Father-in-Law's WW2 medals. There are six of them, including the Africa Star, the Pacific Star and the Defence Medal.
My wife had occasionally wondered, over the years, what had happened to her dad's medals. She figured somebody in the family must have them and she would ask about it from time to time, but nobody seemed to know.
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Recently, with thoughts of having a remembrance of her dad to pass to the grandkids she inquired about them at the Defence Department.
It turned out that her father had never applied to have them issued.
Her dad, James Cheetham ('Bernie' to pretty much everybody), used to march on Anzac Day before heading with the other veterans to the old RSL for lunch where the austere sombreness of the morning gradually gave way to what, reportedly, became a far more informal affair ...
But wearing medals, it would seem, was not his thing.
And now here they are.
The government banned sporting games on Anzac Day from 1916.
The ban came from the right place, in its respect, but it was always an uneasy restriction.
Banning sport on a day commemorating soldiers, Australian ones at that, never quite sat right.
These were people who, after all, played cricket in POW camps, and even while being shelled at Gallipoli.
Still, it lasted 44 years before being lifted in 1960 on the proviso that games would only be played in the afternoon so as not to interfere with the services, which seemed fair enough, and was pretty much how the old soldiers were going about it anyway.
The most moving Anzac Day for me, in my lifetime, was, oddly enough, last year.
There was something special about all of us in that strangest of circumstances standing in our driveways, burning candles and listening to the Last Post on the radio that, in a way I can't quite describe. But somehow, it got right to the heart of the thing.
WHAT IT MEANS
Anzac Day means different things to different people.
For my part, to speak of it seriously: the qualities displayed by the Anzacs in Gallipoli under such unimaginable conditions have, over time, come to define the best of an Australian character: Concepts of courage, of honour, of strength and ingenuity in the face of enormous adversity; of quiet dignity: of fairness; of the supreme value of friendship, and the ceaseless support of the underdog.
And then there are the more colourful ideas: of insubordination (particularly with regard to the pompous); of classless irreverence, and, all importantly, of humour as dry as humour comes.
The spirit of the Anzac is the ideal of the best of all possible Australias, and is the stick by which we should continue to measure ourselves.
But . . .
Anzac Day, at heart, is about war. Anzac day is about the contemplation of war.
My Father-in-Law, who I mentioned earlier, from the time we met until his death at 52, never, ever, uttered a single word about his time serving and fighting for his country.
Such was the horror.
Anzac Day is, essentially, about remembrance for the fallen: Not only the 8000 who died at Gallipoli and the 60,000 who fell throughout WW1, but also in larger terms of Sacrifice - both a nation's sacrifice of its young, and the young sacrificing their lives, their absolute everything, for the nation.
Anzac Day provides a window for the sombre contemplation of this - the reality of war, or wars - the causes, the motivations, the results, Australia's role in global conflict ... but above all, the enormous human costs involved.
It is now 2021, and in excess of one hundred thousand young men, Australian soldiers, have lost their lives fighting for Australia on foreign soil.
It is to them that I will give my heartfelt gratitude on Sunday.
Lest we forget.