Athlete: Th' athletic Fool, to whom what heav'n deny'd of soul is well compensated in limbs,
John Armstrong (1709-1779), The Art of Preserving Health 1777.

I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense.
H. L. Mencken, Heathen Days.

Can't anything be done about calling these guys "student athletes"? That's like referring to Atilla the Hun's cavalry as "weekend warriors."
Russell Baker

Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind.
Thomas Jefferson

There's nothing wrong with the Little League World Series that locking out the adults couldn't cure.
Mike Penner, Los Angeles Times

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?
Vince Lombardi

When it comes to sports I am not particularly interested. Generally speaking, I look upon them as dangerous and tiring activities performed by people with whom I share nothing except the right to trial by jury.
Fran Lebowitz

American professional athletes are bilingual; they speak English and profanity.
Gordie Howe, 1975

It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.
H.L. Mencken

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting. ...there are quite enough real causes of trouble already, and we need not add to them by encouraging young men to kick each other on the shins amid the roars of infuriated spectators.
George Orwell

Give me an athlete and I'll give you an army.
Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf.


Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes away.
Robert M. Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago.

I have never taken any exercise, except for sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome.
Mark Twain, Essays: Seventieth Birthday.

I get my exercise acting as a pallbearer to my friends who exercise.
Chauncey Depew

Exercise is a modern superstition invented by people who ate too much, and had nothing to think about. Athletics don't make anybody either long-lived or useful.
George Santayana

As a nation we are dedicated to keeping physically fit–and parking as close to the stadium as possible.
Bill Vaughan, Kansas City Star.

The word aerobics comes from two Greek words: aero, meaning "ability to," and bics, meaning "withstand tremendous boredom."
Dave Barry

People are so busy lengthening their lives with exercise they don't have time to live them.
Johathan Miller

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.
John Mortimer.

What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease.
George Dennison Prentice

Anything that says 'healthy' I say away from... Giving up butter, for instance, means that in about two years you will be covered in dandruff.
Julia Child, TV cooking show host, writer of books on food.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
Redd Foxx


I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of a hill.
Erma Bombeck


Knowin' all about baseball is just about as profitable as bein' a good whittler.
Kin Hubbard

A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.
Earl Wilson

Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.
Bob Lemon

Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire's eye or on the ball.
Jim Murray

Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?
Jim Bouton, 1988

Baseball is not necessarily an obsessive-compulsive disorder, like washing your hands 100 times a day, but it's beginning to seem that way. We're reaching the point where you can be a truly dedicated, state-of-the-art fan or you can have a life. Take your pick.
Thomas Boswell, Washington Post, 13 April 1990

A critic once characterized baseball as six minutes of action crammed into two-and-one-half hours.
Ray Fitzgerald, in Boston Globe, 1970

Baseball isn't a business, it's more like a disease.
Walter F. O'Malley


College football: I do not see the relationship of those highly industrialized affairs on Saturday afternoons to higher learning in America.
Robert M. Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago.

I will not permit thirty men to travel four hundred miles merely to agitate a bag of wind.
Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), Co-founder and president of Cornell University, in response to the team's request for permission to play an off-campus football game with the University of Michigan in 1873.

Tate University a large football stadium with a college attached.
Harold Lloyd's The Freshman (1925)

Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen; soccer is a gentlemen's game played by beasts; football is a beastly game played by beasts.
Henry Blaha, 1972.

Football: A sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture.
Elbert Hubbard

Football, fraternities, and fun have no place in the university. They were introduced only to entertain those who shouldn't be in the university.
Robert M. Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago.

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important.
Eugene McCarthy.

Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.
George F. Will

College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity.
H. L. Mencken, Minority Report, [186]

Football players, like prostitutes, are in the business of ruining their bodies for the pleasure of strangers.
Merle Kessler

If the players were armed with guns, there wouldn't be stadiums large enough to hold the crowds.
Irwin Shaw

The game of football is played all over the world. In some countries, such a game may be called a soccer match. In others, a revolution. However, there are several differences between a football game and a revolution. For one thing, a football game usually lasts longer and the participants wear uniforms. Also, there are usually more casualties in a football game. The object of the game is to move the ball past the other team's goal line. This counts as six points. No points are given for lacerations, contusions, or abrasions, but then no points are deducted, either. Kicking is very important in football. In fact, some of the more enthusiastic players even kick the football occasionally.
Alfred Hitchcock

Football is, after all, a wonderful way to get rid of your aggressions without going to jail for it.
Heywood Hale Broun

Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: [from academe] A modern school where football is taught.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Most football players are temperamental. That's 90 percent temper and 10 percent mental.
Doug Plank

Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.
The gut-check message is do we have the right balance in our culture? Or are we in a position where hero worship and winning at all costs has subordinated our core values?
—NCAA president Mark Emmert, announcing sanctions on Penn State's football program, July 23, 2012.


A sportsman is a man who, every now and then, simply has to get out and kill something.
Stephen Leacock, "What is Sport?"

When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity.
George Bernard Shaw

When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him a vandal, when he wantonly destroys one of the works of God we call him a sportsman.
Joseph Wood Krutch

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.
P. G. Wodehouse

Racing and hunting excite man's heart to madness.

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
Steven Wright


Golf: A plague invented by the Calvinistic Scots as a punishment for man's sins.
James Reston

Golf: A good walk spoiled.
Mark Twain

If I had my way no man guilty of golf would be eligible to any office of trust under the United States.
H. L. Mencken, quoted in "The Angry Fan" by Randall Poe. Harper's, Nov. 1975.

[Golf is] a sport for liars, drinkers and cussers who like to walk two or three miles belaboring an object 1/45th their size with a loaded cane.
Vesta M. Kelly

Golf. A game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose.
Woodrow Wilson

Golf. Trying to knock a tiny ball into an even smaller hole with implements ill suited to the purpose.
Winston Churchill.

Golf: The most ... perfect expression of National Stupidity.
Max Beerbohm

Golf is essentially an exercise in masochism conducted out of doors; it affords opportunity for a certain swank, it induces a sense of kinship in its victims, and it forces them to breathe fresh air, but it is, at bottom, an elaborate and addictive rite calculated to drive them crazy for hours on end and send them straight to the whiskey bottle after that.
Paul O'Neil, "Palmer Tightens His Grip on Golf," Life, June 15, 1962, p. 103.

Golf: The most useless outdoor game ever devised to waste the time and try the spirit of man.
Westbrook Pegler


Comedian Bill Alexander characterized the academic difficulty of physical education course work: "Within the next three weeks, read pages 6, 7, and 8 and connect the dots on page 4."

Input and suggestions for additional quotes of this type are welcome at this address. Do not waste your time suggesting that I include quotations praising sports, physical education, or exercise, for they are readily available elsewhere.

Return to Donald Simanek's Page