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military preparedness


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A widely influential but often neglected contributor to the profile of sport in some societies. When the fighting soldiers of Britain's army were found to be lacking in fitness and strength in the second Boer War (1899–1902) in the former Transvaal Republic (later, South Africa), measures were introduced to improve the physical fitness of the (male) population. In landlocked Switzerland, competence if not prowess in archery and shooting has been demanded of all of the (male) population since the formation of the Swiss Confederation, linked to the sense that a fit and skilled armed force would be ready to repel any invader. The ideology of athleticism in Britain's public schools fostered an esprit de corps that was directly transferable to the fighting ranks of troops in World War I, as shown in some actual and corroborated, and numerous apocryphal, accounts of kicking footballs ahead of trench advances.

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