I read a collection of short stories a while back. One story, I think it was the final one in the book, was about aliens visiting a sports event (I think it was a football (soccer) match). They completely misunderstood it and thought it was some form of worship, with the stadium being a temple, players being priests, the spectators being worshippers, etc.

That aliens were viewing from inside a spectator, if I remember correctly, like possession.

Does anyone know which story it was?

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    It reminds me of the ``Body Rituals of the Nacirema'' article, a social commentary. I don't know this story though. – Joshua Shane Liberman Feb 10 '11 at 14:55
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    this is really starting to bug me. i keep coming back to this question, maybe i should ask some of my brit friends. – benstraw Feb 24 '11 at 9:36
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    @Wikis I don't think I have read it, but the theme seems really familiar. Maybe I have read something by the same author, but I want to find out what the story is and who the author is. – benstraw Feb 24 '11 at 10:05
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    I don't know the story, unfortunately, but this is taken (to some degree) from real life. During the war, a British-occupied island resulted of course in cricket being played. The indigenous natives watched the game with interest, and assumed it must be some sort of religious ceremony. At war's end, the troops left, but the natives continued playing their own form of the game using improvised equipment... convinced of it's religious nature. Would also have parallels to the "cargo cult" religions that sprung up in other island cultures after the war. – M. Werner Mar 31 '11 at 16:09
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    You mean it isn't (a religion)? – John C Apr 2 '11 at 19:08

I think you are thinking of "Offside" by Adrian Cole which appeared in the anthology "Space 5" edited by Richard Davis. Unfortunately I read a library copy many years ago, so don't have the means to confirm this.

While online references are scant, the author's website provides a one-line summary of the story:

Offside, which describes a football match as seen through the eyes of an alien invader


Closest I can come is the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, where everyone considers the human game of cricket quite obscene because of its referencing the ancient Crikkit wars which all but destroyed galactic civilization.

  • That's what I was thinking, but it's hardly a "collection of short stories". – Hans Kesting Apr 4 '11 at 7:22
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    it isn't, no, except insofar as its origins are a radioshow consisting of several episodes (and of course it's a trilogy in five parts). – jwenting Apr 4 '11 at 9:58
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    It was Krikket, not Crikkit. – TRiG Oct 9 '11 at 18:56
  • was going from memory. Come to think, it may have been spelled Krikkit in the editions I have :) – jwenting Oct 10 '11 at 6:16

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